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Kaine Urges Federal Officials To Support Hampton Roads Sea Level Rise Pilot Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine wrote to the heads of eleven federal agencies and departments, including the Departments of Defense, Energy and Transportation, asking them to support a pilot program aimed at coordinating the response to the challenges that sea level rise and recurrent flooding pose to the Hampton Roads region. The two-year pilot program, which was unveiled by Old Dominion University (ODU) this summer, would involve collaboration by a team of federal, state, regional, and local agencies, as well as representatives of key private sector industries. 

“[Hampton Roads] is a low-lying coastal region where sea level rise, land subsidence, and extreme weather vulnerability converge to create major flooding challenges,” wrote Kaine. “[T]his menu of sea level rise adaptation policies…aims to remove barriers to interagency cooperation, enhance regional planning, and identify support that federal agencies can provide.  While the project centers on the Hampton Roads region, its value is intended to stem in part from its potential for use in other regions…I encourage your department to support the ODU pilot project.”

In June, Kaine hosted a bipartisan conference in Norfolk that focused on how to better coordinate federal, state, and local efforts to find concrete solutions to combat sea level rise.

“Sen. Kaine’s support of this one-of-a-kind pilot project is invaluable, and represents a significant milestone in the development of a government-community-academic-military approach to tackling this complex issue,” said Ray Toll, Director of Coastal Resilience Research at Old Dominion University. “We welcome all federal agencies to participate in the coordinated regional response to sea level rise and recurrent flooding.”

To urge support for the ODU pilot program, Kaine sent letters to U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr., National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, and Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy.

The full text of Kaine’s letters can be found here