EPA Report Recognizes Maryland’s Progress in Preparing for Sea Level Rise

ANNAPOLIS (Jan. 22, 2009) — According to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report released Jan. 16, Maryland leads the mid-Atlantic coastal states in its level of preparedness for a dramatic increase in storm surge flooding and coastal erosion because of climate change.

Coastal Sensitivity to Sea Level Rise: A Focus on the Mid-Atlantic Region, which assesses impacts of sea level rise on the infrastructure and ecosystems in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia and North Carolina, finds that rising sea level will likely contribute to more frequent flooding that could have major consequences for transportation and commerce. However, the report also states that “Maryland has taken a proactive step towards addressing a growing a problem by committing to implementation of [its sea level rise response] strategy and increasing awareness and consideration of sea level rise issues in both public and governmental arenas.”

“Our State is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change—including sea level rise—and our human activities clearly contribute to its causes and consequences,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Through the efforts of the Maryland Climate Change Commission, we are making real progress in both preparing for the impacts of climate change but also in reducing the actions that contribute to it.”

In April 2007, Governor O’Malley signed an Executive Order creating the Maryland Commission on Climate Change, charging the State’s best scientists with determining what Marylanders can do to adapt to the consequences of climate change and to begin reversing global warming trends. In August 2008, Maryland’s Commission on Climate Change issued a Climate Action Plan detailing the effects global warming will have on our state and recommending 61 specific actions to reduce global warming pollution and protect Maryland’s people and property from rising sea levels and changing weather patterns.

A preliminary analysis indicates that, by 2020, implementation of these strategies could result in a net economic benefit to the state of approximately $2 billion, and a study by the Baltimore-based International Center for Sustainable Development shows that Maryland could create between 144,000 and 326,000 “green collar” and research and development jobs by developing clean energy industries, contributing $5.7 billion in wages and salaries boosting local tax revenues by $973 million and increasing gross state production by $16 billion.

“As we chart a course for the future for all Marylanders — even as we seek to address serious challenges such as climate change, a national fiscal crisis, rising energy costs and more — we must remember that the connection between a strong economy, a healthy ecosystem and our preferred quality of life is inherent. Each of us should be inspired by this knowledge as we explore our individual roles in achieving our shared goals for a smarter, greener more sustainable Maryland,” added Governor O’Malley.

Source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

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