Federal Agency Pulls the Plug on Coastal Protection Funding
FORT MYERS, - In late March, ASBPA learned the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) pulled funding for the periodic beach nourishment projects from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus list prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The package contained $4.6 billion for all types of Corps projects.
ASBPA officials learned the reasoning behind the decision was that OMB claimed using federal funds for periodic beach nourishment is contrary to administration budget policy.
Many beach communities rely on these federal funds to protect homes and businesses, keep the beaches safe for visitors and repair shorelines that have eroded.
ASBPA issued a press release immediately, expressing outrage toward the decision. "The lessons of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Ike and others have been quickly forgotten by OMB, or never learned," said Harry Simmons, ASBPA president and mayor of Caswell Beach, NC. "While insisting on Corps projects that reduce risk and have high benefit-to-cost ratios, they have denied funding to the very coastal restoration projects that will reduce risk to lives and property - and reduce the American taxpayers' cost of storm recovery."
Many Congressional leaders backed ASBPA's concern and sent letters to President Obama, asking him to require OMB to reverse the decision. One such letter contained more than 25 signatures from Members of Congress.
ASBPA believes OMB's decision shows the office is ignoring the mandate of the Recovery Act to fund projects that create jobs. The projects on the Corps' list were shovel-ready. Like other beach projects, they have a proven track-record of creating jobs. "In 2007, beaches contributed $322 billion to America's economy," Simmons said. "More importantly, for every dollar the federal government spends on beach nourishment, it gets $320 back in tax revenues - that's got to be one of the best investments Americans can make with their tax dollars.
"More than 2 billion people visit America's beaches every year," Simmons said. "At a time of economic recession, the beach is an even more desirable and affordable destination than other domestic and foreign alternatives. This is not the time for the federal government to abandon coastal communities and the economic value beach businesses generate."
(This information is provided by the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association.)
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