We know it is going to cost millions if not billions of dollars to protect our coastal communities from the rising seas and storm surge that are certain no matter what we do to reduce our GHG emissions from now on. How to fund increased climate resilience is an important question, but perhaps not even the most important one.
The Boston Globe reports this morning that the City of Boston is planning to have some property owners who will benefit from the expensive measures that will be necessary to provide protection from the ocean pay for that protection. For now, the City is focusing on tenants of the City-owned Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park but the Globe reports that may be only the beginning.
Of course this begs the question of what will be done about the communities whose property owners can't afford to pay.
More importantly, it ignores the fact that our 20th century "let nature take its course" laws and regulations have been interpreted to prohibit the necessary resilience projects, or at least make them very difficult to implement, dramatically increasing the cost of this already immeasurably expensive work.
At best, the current rules will subject resilience projects to hair-raising permitting challenges and lengthy appeals with uncertain outcomes. At worst, the current rules would prohibit them.
So, while it is certainly important to figure out a fair way to pay for the coastal resilience we need to put in place, and fast, it is equally important that we get to work revising our regulations to allow 21st century solutions to 21st century challenges.
As today's article points out, we're running out of time to do that.
Protecting Boston from rising seas could cost billions of dollars over the coming decades. On that, residents, business owners, and developers all agree. But there’s a big question no one has yet answered: Who’s going to pay for it?