After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma recently pummeled our coasts, Environment Massachusetts warned that pending budget proposals from the Trump administration and Congress threaten key programs that protect our communities from storm- related impacts. The group documented threats to programs that prevent or curb flooding, sewage overflows and leaks from toxic waste sites. Environment Massachusetts also called for preventing more global warming-fueled extreme weather in the future.
“If there is any lesson to be learned from these devastating hurricanes, it’s that Massachusetts deserves better shelter from the storms,” said Kelsey Lamp from Environment Massachusetts. “Rather than protecting our most vulnerable communities, budget proposals on the table in Washington, D.C. right now threaten coastal resiliency, remove protections for flood-absorbing wetlands, neglect funding for stormwater and sewage treatment, and expose more Americans to toxic chemicals,” she added.
Environment Massachusetts’ analysis found:
Here in Massachusetts we receive over $5 million in federal grants that allow our communities to protect their coasts from storms and rising seas. These funds would be cut or eliminated under both the House and Trump administration’s budgets.
The Clean Water State Revolving Fund provided $45.4 million in 2016 for Massachusetts to repair and build stormwater and sewage treatment infrastructure. Nationwide, our wastewater systems face a $271 billion backlog, yet the House and President’s spending bills fail to provide proper funding to this critical program.
One in four Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site, the most toxic waste sites in the country. Massachusetts has 40 such sites, and the Superfund program is tasked with cleaning up these sites, responding to environmental crises, and protecting the public from hazardous substances, but the Trump administration has proposed cutting the Superfund program by nearly one-third.
“Our coastal communities are threatened by sea level rise, our inland communities are affected by flash flooding, our oceans are warming and our entire state is threatened by extreme weather events,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Marc R. Pacheco (D-Taunton), founding chair of the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change and chief sponsor of S.472, an act providing for the establishment of a comprehensive adaptation management plan in response to climate change. “We must codify a climate adaptation management plan in statute, as the Senate has done three times already. This bill, once again set forth in the legislative process, would provide Massachusetts with a comprehensive vulnerability analysis and begin the implementation of climate adaptation in the Commonwealth. We must be proactive and resilient, but we cannot do it alone: action must be taken on all levels of government to protect our citizens. If we do not prepare, our infrastructure, environment and economy will all be devastated. Our federal government needs to support programs that will bolster our state, region and country against the worst effects of climate change.”
Jack Clarke, Director of Public Policy and Government Relations at Mass Audubon and Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Coalition, said: “Businesses, communities and nonprofits across Massachusetts recognize the need to protect our state from the impacts of climate change. We need to invest in resiliency now, so that we can save money and lives down the road. Cutting funding on the federal level for programs that keep our coasts and families safe is short-sighted and will only harm Massachusetts residents.”
“We need to make our communities less susceptible to flooding, sewage overflows, and leaks from toxic waste sites, and of course we need to prevent even more intense global warming-fueled extreme weather in the future. We’re counting on Senators Warren and Markey to protect Massachusetts residents and pass a budget that puts our families’ health and community's safety first, one that will give Massachusetts more shelter from the storms ahead,” Lamp concluded.