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Department of Commerce unveils $2.6 billion ‘coastal climate resilience’ package

The plan will support efforts to combat climate change while preserving and restoring fish habitats.

WASHINGTON (CN) — The U.S. Department of Commerce will allocate $2.6 billion to support coastal areas dealing with the effects of climate change and to support conservation and restoration of fish habitats, federal officials announced Tuesday.

Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other agencies unveiled the framework for this “coastal climate resilience” package in a news release on Tuesday, touted as a first-of-its-kind targeted investment for climate change.

The plan focuses on strategies for coastal communities to address climate change and other environmental concerns, including through fish habitat restoration, training for climate-related jobs and funding to support businesses addressing the impact of climate change.

The money is primarily targeted for areas that are dealing with increased sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events.

“This is one of the most significant direct investments in the U.S. climate resilience ever,” Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a call with reporters. “If you’re going to preserve people’s way of life and livelihood, you have to invest.”

Don Graves, deputy secretary of Commerce, echoed these sentiments in the NOAA press release.

"This massive investment will go a long way in helping [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] prepare communities for natural disasters and more effectively address the environmental and economic impacts to help millions recover from these events," Graves stated. “It’s no mistake that NOAA finds its home in the Commerce Department, where we remain fully committed to its mission." 

Officials will use about $575 million to establish a competitive grant program to “invest in holistic, collaborative approaches to coastal resilience at regional scales,” the department said. More information on the grant opportunities will be announced later this summer.

The plan also directs $390 million to Native American tribes to support conservation and restoration of fish habitats, particularly to support Pacific salmon.

NOAA will use $349 million to conserve fisheries in coastal regions, while $100 million will go to an agency-administered business accelerator program.

“This funding makes a one time investment in science that we need to make smarter decisions,” Washington Senator Maria Cantwell said in a call with reporters. 

NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said some of the money will support “critical infrastructure improvements” to the agency’s facilities and technology. Among them: a fishery in Sandy Hook, New Jersey; the NW Fisheries Science Center in Seattle; and piers in Charleston, South Carolina, and Newport, Rhode Island. 

Spinrad said NOAA will also purchase a second plane to observe hurricanes in the Gulf Stream, a constant current of warm water in the Atlantic Ocean that is associated with tropical storms.

“We are investing in America and empowering communities to understand and take action to address their risks to climate change and ensure they continue to thrive now and into the future,” Spinrad said in the press release. “We can’t do it alone and look forward to engaging partners, building resilience, and supporting conservation with this funding.” 

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Categories / Environment, Government

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