Joint Legislative Subcommittee on Recurrent Flooding and Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission

 

 

 

 

 

VCPC students with the Governor at the reception from left to right: Jeremy Forrest, Governor McAuliffe, Ben Willis, Toren Elsen, Garrett Gee, and Hannah Fish.

VCPC students with the Governor at the reception from left to right: Jeremy Forrest, Governor McAuliffe, Ben Willis, Toren Elsen, Garrett Gee, and Hannah Fish.

 

On September 10, Virginia Coastal Policy Clinic (VCPC) students and staff had the opportunity to travel to Richmond, VA, to attend meetings of the Joint Legislative Subcommittee on Recurrent Flooding and Governor McAuliffe’s Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission. The students heard different points of view on coastal issues from a diverse group of stakeholders and saw Virginia’s highest ranking official strongly advocate for progress on climate change and recurrent flooding. Says Garrett Gee, a VCPC student this semester, “It was an honor to witness firsthand the Governor’s commitment to protecting Virginia’s environment. This experience will be hard to top in law school.”

Both meetings discussed the economic impact of sea level rise and what can be done about it from a legislative standpoint. Speakers, from representatives of the insurance industry to public officials, emphasized during the Joint Legislative Subcommittee that although mitigation of recurrent flooding risks is costly, the uncertainty and loss of confidence that arise from inaction will lead to economic consequences such as property damage and increases in flood insurance. Even simple responses to these risks, such as requiring the front doors of all properties to open outward instead of inward, will help reduce the intrusion of floodwaters and mold growth. The Subcommittee stressed that planning and coordination on the local and regional levels is necessary to generate these kinds of applicable solutions.

The Governor’s Commission meeting also recognized the need for a response to coastal climate change and the necessity of immediate action and creative solutions. Governor McAuliffe asked the Commission to propose five achievable responses within a year. Says VCPC student Ben Willis, “I am pleased to see Governor McAuliffe bring a practical attitude to the commission on climate change…We can’t fix everything at once, and I think the Governor’s ‘four or five projects’ goal is a good way to start.”

After the meetings, VCPC students had the rare opportunity to connect with the Commission members, including the Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward, a William & Mary Law School alumna, at a reception at the Governor’s mansion.

“I had hope leaving Richmond that Virginia may lead the way in addressing climate change,” says VCPC student Toren Elsen. “Both in the meeting and at his mansion, I found Governor McAuliffe to be approachable, driven, and, most importantly, willing to take on pressing issues.”

The Governor’s Climate Change and Resiliency Update Commission will be holding its next meeting at the VCPC December 5th conference on “Adaptive Planning for Flooding and Coastal Change in Virginia.” The conference will be held at William & Mary. To register for the conference, go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/adaptive-planning-for-flooding-and-coastal-change-in-virginia-registration-13826085193.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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