Coastal Development

February 22, 2013 • Volume 23, Issue 8
Is over-building putting coastal regions at risk?
By Jennifer Weeks


Scientists expect high-density oceanside communities (Getty Images/Bruce Bennett)
Scientists expect high-density oceanside communities such as Atlantic Beach, N.Y. — shown nearly a year before Superstorm Sandy heavily damaged the town last October — to be increasingly threatened by intense storms and rising sea levels due to climate change. Environmentalists and taxpayer groups want the government to stop encouraging coastal development. (Getty Images/Bruce Bennett)

Superstorm Sandy, which devastated portions of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut last October, has revived longstanding debates about coastal development. Congress has approved more than $60 billion in relief funding for Sandy, which ranks as one of the most destructive storms in U.S. history. Future storms could be even worse because of climate change, which is raising global sea levels. New York officials are considering building floodgates to protect against storm surges, one of many strategies under consideration. Some experts argue that to make coastlines better able to withstand extreme weather, storm-damaged houses in vulnerable zones should not be rebuilt. Meanwhile, critics blame the federal flood insurance program, designed to help homeowners who cannot get private coverage, for subsidizing risky development with taxpayer dollars. But advocates say the program is needed to protect homeowners against catastrophic loss.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Feb. 16, 2018  Rising Seas
Feb. 22, 2013  Coastal Development
Aug. 21, 1998  Coastal Development
Feb. 07, 1992  Threatened Coastlines
Nov. 02, 1984  America's Threatened Coastlines
Nov. 26, 1976  Coastal Zone Management
Feb. 25, 1970  Coastal Conservation
Climate Change
Natural Disasters