Half of US coastal states fail to address sea level rise

January 2, 2019 | Environment

The majority of US coastal states still fail to design and implement effective coastal protection plans and schemes.

According to the 2018 State of the Beach Report Card released by Surfrider Foundation, the situation is worse in states that are often affected by extreme weather events.

The study led by the environmental organization evaluates the performance of US states and the territory of Puerto Rico in four main categories: sediment management, coastal armoring, development, and sea level rise.

The annual State of the Beach Report Card uses a five-letter grading system from A to F to score each of the four variables, at each state.

The results for 2018 reveal that 74 percent of states assessed are doing a mediocre-to-poor job of responding to coastal erosion and sea level rise planning.

"While the Northeast and West Coast states earned a 'B' average, the Southeast and Gulf of Mexico states collectively scored a 'D' or below average," notes Surfrider.

California: The Example to Follow

The good news is that 10 percent of the states improved their efforts in sea level rise planning in the past year.

California was the only state to receive an "A" in the global evaluation. Surfrider notes that the 1976 California Coastal Act has been "vital in ensuring that California retains its magnificent natural
beauty."

The State of the Beach Report Card is particularly relevant because nearly 40 percent of the US population lives along America’s coastlines, and the ocean economy contributes more than $352 billion to the country's GDP annually.

Coastal erosion already causes a negative economic impact of approximately $500 million in coastal property annually in the United States.

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