Representatives Introduce Bill Designating National Centers of Excellence in Coastal Flood Research and Education

December 14, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Congressman Scott Taylor, joined by Virginia Reps. Bobby Scott (VA-03) and Rob Wittman (VA-01), introduced the National Centers of Excellence in Coastal Flood Research and Education Act. This legislation designates public colleges and universities that provide research, data, and recommendations on the scientific, economic, policy, and risk analysis of coastal flooding as National Centers of Excellence in Coast Flood Research and Education. Specifically, the bill instructs the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to designate and identify such centers as sources for expert advice and guidance for Federal agencies engaged in coastal flooding research and education issues and projects.  

“Sea level rise poses a significant threat to coastal regions and communities, especially coastal Virginia,” said Congressman Scott Taylor. “Our Commonwealth has the highest concentration of DoD coastal facilities and commercial port facilities in the nation that are at risk from sea level rise. Hampton Roads is home to thousands of federal employees, contractors, and military personnel, representing the second largest population center at risk from sea level rise impact. Providing a national designation for institutions that offer quality research and analysis, such as Old Dominion University, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and the Virginia Coastal Policy Center at the College of William and Mary, is the first step toward combatting the potentially devastating effects of sea level rise on our communities, infrastructure, and military capabilities.”

“Dramatic sea level rise poses significant risk to Virginians, and I am proud to work on this bipartisan legislation with Reps. Taylor and Wittman,” said Congressman BobbyScott. “Virginia communities are some of the most vulnerable areas in the country in regards to the rising sea level. We must take this threat seriously. Virginia’s population, economy, military, and infrastructure are all at risk if we do not act. Our universities and colleges stand on the forefront of scientific and academic innovation with the potential to stem the tide of sea level rise, and this legislation is a promising step towards making sure that their expertise is listened to and respected.” 

“Hampton Roads and Coastal Virginia currently face challenges associated with rising sea levels and a sinking coastal plain – leading to costly and impactful repetitive flooding. As Virginia, and Hampton Roads specifically, is the east coast epicenter of military activity, I want to make sure our Department of Defense and Virginia installations have the tools they need to complete their mission in the face of coastal flooding. Designating these research institutions as “Centers of Excellence” will allow for ongoing studies and collaborations to model recurrent flooding and sea level rise and examine options for enhancing mission resiliency at impacted military installations and protecting coastal communities,” stated Congressman Rob Wittman.

As a condition of designation as a National Center of Excellence, the public college or university must agree to collaborate on Federal flood-related issues with federal agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) on best practices on regional, state, and locally specific flooding and flood related issues. The Administrator of NOAA will submit an annual report to Congress and the President detailing the findings and applicable information from the National Centers of Excellence, and make the report available to the public in an easily accessible electronic format on the NOAA website.