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New law requires sea-level impact study for publicly-funded coastal projects

Democratic Sen. José Javier Rodríguez and GOP Rep. Vance Aloupis backed the bipartisan legislation.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed off on legislation requiring publicly-funded coastal project contractors to study nearby environmental effects before building can begin.

Democratic Sen. José Javier Rodríguez backed the bill (SB 178) while Republican Rep. Vance Aloupis supported the House version (HB 579). Both lawmakers represent portions of Miami-Dade County.

“In a state where more than two-thirds of the population lives near the coast, requiring planning when state taxpayer dollars are spent on infrastructure in the coastal zone is a necessary and long overdue initial step in addressing the impacts of climate,” Rodríguez said Tuesday.

“Climate change affects public health, the economy, housing, transportation, infrastructure and so many areas of our life and I hope the Florida Legislature will build on what we did in the 2020 Session. I am grateful to Rep. Aloupis for his efforts and look forward to expanding on this progress.”

The law does not take effect immediately. Rather, it tasks the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with developing the standard for the newly-required sea level impact projection (SLIP) study. Those studies will then be mandated one year after that DEP rule is finalized. The requirement will only apply to new projects.

The study will factor in “the flooding, inundation, and wave action damage risks relating to the coastal structure over its expected life or 50 years, whichever is less,” according to the bill’s language.

That assessment must “provide scientific and engineering evidence of the risk to the coastal structure and methods used to mitigate, adapt to, or reduce this risk.” However, the measure does not “create a cause of action for damages or otherwise authorize the imposition of penalties by a public entity for failure to implement what is contained in the SLIP study.”

The study’s results must be published to the DEP’s website for at least 30 days before construction can begin.

“I’m proud to have worked alongside Sen. Rodríguez to bring this important piece of legislation to Gov. DeSantis’ desk,” Aloupis said.

“The delicate relationship between our coastal communities and the environment requires that our Legislature take meaningful steps to ensure that coastal construction be completed with an understanding of sea level rise and an appreciation for protecting our natural resources.”

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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