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Waltz Introduces Legislation Leveraging University Research to Preserve Florida’s Coasts

On Thursday, U.S. Reps. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) and Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) introduced legislation to sustain Florida’s coasts through research and education at public higher education institutions.

H.R. 5102, the Coastal Resilience Research and Education Act, would provide the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the authority to designate public universities and colleges as National Centers of Excellence in Coastal Resilience Research and Education. This designation recognizes institutions exhibiting leadership in research and education focused on resilience and mitigating flooding and shoreline erosion.

The legislation also formalizes collaborative partnerships with federal agencies, which ensure the sharing of science-based research, information and policy recommendations to the federal government to protect vulnerable coastlines.

"Floridians know the impacts of coastal flooding and beach erosion on our communities,” Waltz said. “To preserve our coasts and way of life, it’s critical that we leverage the research of public universities to plan for a resilient future. Florida’s universities are on the cutting-edge of research and development of strategies to better plan for severe flooding.”

"Our Central Coast communities are increasingly vulnerable to climate change, which threatens our national security, economy, and environment," said Panetta. "Coastal colleges and universities are advancing cutting-edge research and development. My legislation improves coordination on coastal resiliency, while advancing climate science research and education to carry our nation towards a more sustainable future."

To qualify as a Center of Excellence, the school must:

  • Be located in a state frequently experiencing coastal flooding or shoreline erosion;
  • Demonstrate proven expertise in the physical, engineering and environmental sciences;
  • Demonstrate a commitment to understanding the socioeconomic impacts of a changing climate;
  • Collaborate with state agencies or state legislators as technical and scientific advisory entities;
  • Demonstrate institutional collaboration in coastal flooding/shoreline erosion research and education with other public institutions;
  • Demonstrate a history of convening government entities to develop plans for coastal flooding and shoreline erosion.

The legislation complements Florida’s commitment to tackling climate issues head-on. Earlier this year, Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed a Chief Science Officer and a Chief Resilience Officer to address a changing climate and its impacts on the Sunshine State.

The bill is also sponsored by Reps. Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Cedric Richmond (D-La.), Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) and Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.)

“This bill is an example of good government, since it creates an efficiency between the federal government and our colleges and universities,” said Waltz. “Florida is focused on resilience and stands to benefit from the partnerships authorized in this bill.”