The Invading Sea asked the resilience officers from the region’s four counties about their goals and aspirations for 2019 and beyond.
In an email, Megan S. Houston from Palm Beach County outlined these goals:
— Inventory community and countywide greenhouse gas emissions to identify a reduction target. The county has completed one set of emissions tracking.
Currently, the Office of Resilience is collecting 2016 emissions. After collecting, and analyzing, the county will be better equipped to set reduction targets and create strategies to get us there.
— Create a “Resiliency and Sustainability Checklist” for county capital projects.
The County is finalizing a manual to guide departments on how to incorporate resilience and sustainability principles into all capital projects. County departments with construction authority must assess the implications of climate change and sea-level rise during the design of the department’s capital projects.
This means that more than $700 million in planned projects will be more resilient. Once the manual is done, the Office of Resilience will work with departments to create checklists to implement the manual’s goals.
— Achieve SolSmart Gold status
The county is committed to facilitating clean energy investments for its residents and businesses. As of December, the county has permitted 887 separate solar installations community-wide. The county has SolSmart Silver status and is working with SolSmart to get a Gold designation. SolSmart is a national technical assistance and designation program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative. It recognizes communities that have taken key steps to address barriers to solar energy and foster the growth of solar markets. The program seeks to address business processes or administrative costs that can increase the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system.
To achieve Gold status, the Office of Resilience has published a renewable energy resource on its website and is working with the Planning, Zoning, and Building Department to improve the permitting time for solar photovoltaic installations.
Improve water resiliency:
Water resiliency means that the county’s water resources are reliable, enjoyable, healthy, and managed.
The Office of Resilience has been meeting with County department leads, the South Florida Water Management District, and other experts in water management to better understand their resiliency planning efforts.
The Office of Resilience is also working with municipalities in the southeastern region of the county though its Coastal Resilience Partnership (CRP) to better understand sea-level rise and storm surge risks to the region’s real estate and infrastructure. The CRP is currently developing a scope of work for a CRP vulnerability assessment.
Top state government resiliency priorities for the county:
— supportdevelopment of a statewide climate action plan that includes greenhouse gas emissions reduction, adaptation, and resilience measures.
— supportadditional funding for the Department of Environmental Protection Resilient Coastline Initiative and its local government technical assistance programs, as well as funding for resilient infrastructure projects identified by local governments.
— supportLand Acquisition Trust Fund funding for regional priorities, including living shorelines, beaches, coastal and coral reef protection, preservation of native habitat areas, and maintenance of existing conservation lands.
Top Federal resiliency priorities for the county:
— supportefforts to reauthorize, improve, and strengthen the National Flood Insurance Program. A reformed program should limit rate increases, have greater participation, expand the Increased Cost of Compliance Program, increase funding for mitigation, and develop accurate flood maps.
— urgethe U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reassess the Central and South Florida Flood Control Project in light of the changing climate, especially sea-level rise.
— supportreauthorization of the Coral Reef Conservation Act of 2000 and increased funding for coral reef health, protection and restoration.
— supportincreased funding for shore protection projects, including a study of the feasibility of using foreign sand in beach renourishment projects.
— supportthe establishment of a national price on carbon, especially revenue-neutral and public dividend proposals.
— opposeweakening of vehicle fuel-economy standards and revocation of the waiver allowing California to set its own fuel-economy standards.
— opposethe “Affordable Clean Energy” plan for existing power plants proposed by the Trump Administration and any federal restrictions on state-level action to regulate emissions from power plants.
“The Invading Sea” is a collaboration of four South Florida media organizations — the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post and WLRN Public Media.