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June 28, 2019

Report: Sea Level Rise Could Force More Than $400 Billion in Seawall Construction

Report: Sea Level Rise Could Force More Than $400 Billion in Seawall Construction

Coastal communities in the lower 48 states will face more than $400 billion in seawall costs due to sea level rise over the next 20 years, according to a new report by the Center for Climate Integrity and Resilient Analytics.

Using "moderate" sea level rise projections through 2040 and expected storm surges, High Tide Tax: The Price to Protect Coastal Communities from Rising Seas projects that more than 50,000 miles of seawalls in 22 states will need to be built over the next 20 years.

For hundreds of small coastal communities, the costs will outstrip their ability to pay, forcing retreat or abandonment; in 178 communities, mitigation costs will exceed $100,000 per person.

Florida will be hardest hit, facing an estimated $76 billion in costs, followed by Louisiana ($36.5 billion), North Carolina ($34.8 billion), Virginia ($31.2 billion), Maryland ($27.4 billion), New Jersey ($25.0 billion), Washington ($23.9 billion), California ($22.0 billion), South Carolina ($20.0 billion), and Texas ($19.3 billion).

The report cautions that costs could be much higher. Sea levels could rise more than the estimates used in the report and seawall construction is just one cost that the communities will face.

"The cost estimates presented here are just a small portion of the total adaptation costs these local and state governments will be forced to finance," said Paul Chinowsky, who was the lead engineer on the project."

To view the report, click here.


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