A Better Budget for Beaches
FORT MYERS - Leaders from the American Shore & Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) announced last month they are pleased President Obama's 2010 budget proposal includes more money for coastal projects than previous administrations, but that the amount is still not enough. "We are very pleased that this administration has a better appreciation for the coast," says Daniel Sheehan, an ASBPA governmental affairs representative. "The increase in funding shows this administration sees the importance of funding programs that promote sound coastal stewardship, as well as providing jobs and other significant benefits for the American people." The president's FY 2011 budget includes $4.88 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, $53 million of which is slated for coastal projects. This is a 10 percent reduction for the Corps' overall funding. The ASBPA believes Corps funding should be approximately $6 billion, which would create or preserve more than 300,000 permanent jobs and enable the Corps to move forward on numerous national priorities it has been charged to complete. Furthermore, the ASBPA maintains coastal projects should be funded at $400 million, which more closely reflects the number of federal coastal projects awaiting full funding to finish their authorized tasks.
"The 10 percent reduction and the lack of additional funding for the federal beach nourishment program is harmful to reducing coastal risks and protecting the coastal environment," Sheehan said.
Historically, Congress has appropriated approximately $100 million a year to reduce coastal erosion. During the previous administration, which proposed a mere $13 million for coastal projects, Congress made up the difference by appropriating $105 million. By comparison, "most European nations spend at least 10 times more each year on coastal issues despite having far less coastline to protect." Sheehan said. "It's discouraging."
Beaches are coastal levees, protecting the 55 percent of America's population and coastal infrastructure from storms. "The president's budget does little to promote the protection and restoration of America's coastal environmental resources," Sheehan said. "Over the next several months, ASBPA will work with the Appropriations Committees so that Congress fills as much of the coastal budget gap created by the president's budget as possible."
For more information about coastal needs, visit www.asbpa.org.
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