Less Shelter from the Storm

Budget proposal risks Virginia communities’ safety
For Immediate Release

After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma recently pummeled our coasts, Environment Virginia warned that pending budget proposals from the Trump administration and Congress threaten key programs that protect our communities from storm- related impacts. The group documented threats to programs that prevent or curb flooding, sewage overflows and leaks from toxic waste sites. Environment Virginia also called for preventing more global warming-fueled extreme weather in the future.

“If there is any lesson to be learned from these devastating hurricanes, it’s that Virginians deserve better shelter from the storms,” said Elly Boehmer from Environment Virginia. “Rather than protecting our most vulnerable communities, budget proposals on the table in Washington, D.C. right now threaten coastal resiliency, remove protections for flood-absorbing wetlands, neglect funding for stormwater and sewage treatment, and expose more Americans to toxic chemicals,” she added.

Environment Virginia’s analysis found:

  • Wetlands are nature’s flood control, and here in Virginia we have 1 million acres of wetlands. The House budget and Trump administration block the Clean Water Rule, leaving flood-absorbing wetlands more vulnerable to pollution and degradation.
  • Here in Virginia we receive $4.12 million in grants that allow our communities to protect their coasts from storms and rising seas. These funds would be cut or eliminated under both the House and Trump administration’s budgets.
  • The Clean Water State Revolving Fund provided $27.3 million in 2016 for Virginia to repair and build stormwater and sewage treatment infrastructure Nationwide. Our wastewater systems face a $271 billion backlog, yet the House and President’s spending bills fail to provide proper funding to this critical program.

“I'm scared for my family and neighbors if we let the President and some in Congress push a budget that undermines the impact disasters have on coastal communities, our health and our economies,” said Samantha Jaffe, Virginia Beach resident. “Having lived through natural disasters and feeling firsthand the health implications of storms and flooding, I can empathize with the communities impacted by Harvey and Irma. Now more than ever we need full funding of programs that help coastal communities like my own become more resilient and prepared in the face of disaster.”

“We need to make our communities less susceptible to flooding, sewage overflows, and leaks from toxic waste sites, and of course we need to prevent even more intense global warming-fueled extreme weather in the future. We’re counting on Senators Kaine and Warner to protect Virginians and pass a budget that puts our families’ health and community's safety first; one that will give Virginians more shelter from the storms ahead,” Boehmer concluded.