U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-CA, recently announced a bill intended to help protect coastal communities from climate change effects like sea level rise and stronger storms.
The Living Shorelines Act of 2021, which Padilla introduced with Democratic federal legislators from New Jersey and Connecticut, would create a pair of federal grant programs through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to study and construct “living shorelines” out of natural materials like plants, sand and rock rather than concrete barriers.
Similar projects, like the San Francisco Bay Living Shorelines Project, are already underway in California, Padilla said.
Nearly 20 local, state and federal organizations and agencies are collaborating on the Living Shorelines Project, which is using eelgrass and oyster beds to create reefs along the Bay that are intended to reduce coastal flooding and erosion.
“We are facing a climate crisis and the impacts are being felt in California and across the country,” Padilla said in a statement. “Living shoreline infrastructure is already helping states like California utilize wetlands and other nature-based features to buffer communities from sea level rise and extreme weather.”
Vice President Kamala Harris co-sponsored a similar bill during the 2019-20 federal legislative session when she was California’s junior senator.
Padilla’s bill would provide $50 million to support living shoreline projects and $5 million for living shoreline research projects, according to the senator.