Jim Blackburn and the Effort to Prevent a Storm Surge Calamity in Galveston Bay

A system of decision making leaves a huge risk unaddressed

On this episode, Peter Ravella and Tyler Buckingham take a deep dive into the massive risk of an economic and environmental disaster in Galveston Bay if -- and when -- the "Big One" hits.  Galveston Bay is ringed by massive oil refineries, chemical and petrochemical  facilities, storage tanks filled to the brim with oil, chemicals, fuels, and distillates and these facilities are not storm-proofed to survive a major storm surge event.  The Galveston District of the USACE is planning the $20B "Coastal Spine" project that will address storm surge risk up to about 15 feet but recent storms have shown that storm surge in excess of 20 feet is no longer a fanciful nightmare. And, because of the arcane rules listing what can and cannot be considered in a cost-benefit analysis, these massive risks are being ignored, causing many sleepless nights for Blackburn and his colleagues at Rice University's SSPEED Center.  The SSPEED Center has an developed the Galveston Bay Park Plan (don't be fooled by the name) which would supplement the USACE's Coastal Spine Project and significantly boost storm surge protection to Houston, bay-front communities, and the massive industrial facilities at risk of inundation and destruction.  Find out why it is so difficult to boost the level of protection provided to our coastal energy infrastructure and the people that know and love Galveston Bay.  Only on ASPN!

Peter Ravella & Tyler Buckingham

Peter and Tyler joined forces in 2015 and from the first meeting began discussing a project that would become Coastal News Today and the American Shoreline Podcast Network. At the time, Peter and Tyler were coastal consultants for Pete’s firm, PAR Consulting, LLC. In that role, they worked with coastal communities in Texas, Florida, and North Carolina, engaged in grant writing, coastal project development, shoreline erosion and land use planning, permitting, and financial planning for communities undertaking big beach restoration projects. Between and among their consulting tasks, they kept talking and kept building the idea of CNT & ASPN. In almost every arena they worked, public engagement played a central role. They spent thousands of hours talking with coastal stakeholders, like business owners, hotel operators, condo managers, watermen, property owners, enviros, surfers, and fishermen. They dived deep into the value, meaning, and responsibility for the American shoreline, segment-by-segment. Common threads emerged, themes were revealed, differences uncovered. There was a big conversation going on along the American shoreline! But, no place to have it. That's where CNT and ASPN were born.