Photo of Fort Pierce, FL Jetty storm surge by Carolyn Fortuna / CleanTechnica

FL - Can It Be True? Florida’s Climate Resilience Plan Is Real?

If enacted, this bill will expand the requirements of Florida’s Sea-Level Impact Projection (SLIP) studies beyond the current coastal construction zone and into all areas threatened by current and projected sea level rise, not just in areas directly on the coast.

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has come out in favor of Florida’s new legislation that advances the prioritization of climate resilience.


The EDF?

Rachel Rhode, manager for EDF’s climate resilient coasts & watersheds program in Florida, commends lawmakers for recognizing the importance of building climate resilience and empowering Florida communities to better combat flood risk and sea level rise. “It’s exciting to see Florida take advantage of additional federal funding opportunities to better prepare all communities throughout the state against the ever-increasing climate impacts,” Rhode explains. “We encourage Florida leaders to continue on this trajectory by making decisions based on science, prioritizing nature-based solutions, and recognizing the complex challenges communities face in the wake of devastating climate impacts.”

General bill HB111, introduced by Rep. Christine Hunschofsky (D) of the Agriculture, Conservation, & Resiliency Subcommittee, outlines the following:

  • Flooding and sea level rise vulnerability studies
  • Revises purposes for which DEP may provide grants under Resilient Florida Grant Program to counties, municipalities, & water management districts
  • Requires state-financed constructors to take specified actions before commencing construction
  • Requires DEP to develop specified sea level impact projection study standard
  • Provides for civil actions, injunctive relief, recovery of certain funds, & enforcement
  • Provides for future repeal of requirements for construction of certain structures in coastal building zone

Remarkably, this legislation that passed out of the House this week without a single “no” vote. There were no amendments and was no debate as members breezed through consideration of the measure.

“We have flooding everywhere, so what my bill does is expand that to wherever there are flooding issues or seasons,” Hunschofsky said before the Legislative Session. “It’s making sure that when you are using government money to build, you’re taking into account everything and not just doing it blindly.”

The bill (HB 111) directs the Resilient Florida Grant program to provide money for local governments to conduct feasibility studies and cover permitting costs for nature-based solutions to the impact of flooding and sea-level rise.

Currently, publicly funded projects within the coastal construction zone are required to perform a Sea Level Impact Projection (SLIP) study before breaking ground. SLIP studies analyze the potential impact of sea level rise and other coastal hazards on coastal construction projects that are funded by the state. These studies are critical to understanding the safety and economic impacts of sea level rise and coastal flooding.

But under this new bill, that requirement will expand to projects in all areas threatened by current and projected sea level rise, not just in areas directly on the coast. Moving through the Senate with unanimous House approval, this bill exemplifies a bipartisan effort to build climate and flood resilience in Florida.

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