Funding secured, expanded for coastal erosion study
By John McPhaul
Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón announced Thursday that the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has included funding and expanded a coastal erosion study in Puerto Rico in order to further analyze environmental impacts and alternatives to proposed measures.
“Coastal erosion projects are necessary to protect life and property; as a result of the impact of the hurricanes of 2017 and subsequent storm surges, the erosion of the beaches has accelerated,” the resident commissioner said in a written statement. “So it is important for the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources of Puerto Rico (DNER) and I that several factors are taken into consideration in the study phase so that the construction of these projects is an accurate one.”
In 2014, Congress gave USACE approval to study how to buffer coastal erosion on the island, but the study had not been accomplished due to lack of funds. In the Bipartisan Budget Agreement (BBA) of 2018, the resident commissioner achieved the largest assignment of USACE funds in history for the island, $2.5 billion, within which $3 million were allocated for the study with a term of three years.
This week and as a result of requests from the resident commissioner in support of the DNER to further analyze the environmental impacts and alternatives to proposed measures for coastal protection, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jaime Pinkham announced an extension of the validity of the study until 2024, at the same time doubling the original budget of $3 million to a total of $6.3 million. The works will remain financed 100 percent by federal funds, coming from savings of the same BBA funds of 2018.