Measure helps local communities address threats to property, infrastructure
AUGUSTA – A measure to help coastal communities prepare for changes in sea level won initial House approval Thursday. The vote was 83-61.
LD 408, An Act to Help Municipalities Prepare for Changes in Sea Level, adds consideration of sea level changes to the state’s planning goals in its Growth Management Act and encourages affected municipalities to incorporate such consideration in their comprehensive plans.
“Planning ahead for this measurable trending threat to the economy, infrastructure and safety of our 140 coastal towns and cities is good public policy,” said Rep. Lydia Blume, D-York, the bill’s sponsor. “From Kittery to Lubec, we have 5,600 winding miles of world-famous shore that nurtures much, including our fisheries and tourism – strong economic engines of this great state. We need to engage as many minds as we can to protect what we value and this bill helps achieve that goal.”
The waters of Casco Bay rose 5 inches during 2009 and 2010, compared to 3.9 inches for the Northeast overall, according to University of Arizona report published earlier this year in Nature Communications. The report, which analyzed monthly tidal data, found the magnitude of sea level rise was unprecedented in the history of tide gauge records.
“Planning for sea level rise now can help communities protect their investment and infrastructure in the future,” said Rep. Patty Hymanson, D-York, a cosponsor of the bill who represents Ogunquit and parts of Wells, York and Sanford. “Ogunquit has planned and is acting on their plan to keep the integrity of their coastline intact well into the future.”
LD 408 does not impose any mandates on local communities and has no fiscal note.
“The state is at risk of the dangers of sea level rise, which is occurring in the Gulf of Maine at a rapid rate,” said Rep. Deane Rykerson, D-Kittery, a cosponsor. “Our infrastructure, transportation, homes, businesses and the very fabric of our communities is in danger. This small step could save our state billions of dollars and probably save lives in the coming decades.”
The bill faces further action in the House and Senate.