January 29, 2019

On Senate Floor, Senator Hassan Highlights Harmful Impacts of Climate Change on New Hampshire’s Seacoast

CLIMATE

To watch the Senator’s floor speech, click here

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan took to the Senate floor today to highlight the very real and harmful impacts of climate change on New Hampshire’s economy and Seacoast, reiterating the importance of strengthening coastal resiliency in order to support vulnerable communities.

“In New Hampshire’s Seacoast region, our state’s beautiful coastline helps propel our economy forward, supporting industries like tourism and commercial fishing, and contributing to our high quality of life,” Senator Hassan said. “But just as proximity to the ocean provides vital opportunities – our communities are finding that as climate change intensifies, these communities are increasingly at risk.”

The Senator noted that stronger storms and rising sea levels are leading to increased flooding in coastal communities across New Hampshire, and have caused devastating decreases in property values in the region. To support vulnerable communities, the Senator emphasized the importance of strengthening coastal resiliency.

“It is our responsibility to help our communities adapt to these changes and this starts with focusing on efforts like coastal resiliency to help vulnerable communities prepare, and on improving our infrastructure, and developing strategies to help plan ahead of storms and extreme weather events,” Senator Hassan said. “At the local level, Granite Staters on the Seacoast are already being proactive on this front. Community members have formed advocacy groups and local governments have focused on addressing these challenges head-on and developing resilience strategies. We have to support their efforts. But, Madame President, we must also do more.”

Senator Hassan concluded, “I will keep working to address climate change, and to achieve a cleaner environment and stronger energy future that will help our citizens, economy, and businesses thrive.”

See below for Senator Hassan’s full remarks or click here to watch:

I want to start by thanking my colleague, Senator Whitehouse from Rhode Island, not only for his remarks today but his leadership on this issue, because I rise today to join him in highlighting the toll that climate change is taking on coastal communities throughout New England.

Senator Whitehouse has been a fierce advocacy and he has dedication to and continues to push our colleagues to adress the dire issue of climate change, and I am here to join him in that effort. 

Madame President, in New Hampshire’s Seacoast region, our state’s beautiful coastline helps propel our economy forward, supporting industries like tourism and commercial fishing, and contributing to our high quality of life.

But just as proximity to the ocean provides vital opportunities – our communities are finding that as climate change intensifies, these communities are increasingly at risk.

As you can see from this photo that was taken last year in Rye, New Hampshire – stronger storms and rising sea levels are leading to increased flooding in our coastal areas.

And as Senator Whitehouse mentioned, our communities are already feeling the direct economic impacts of rising sea levels.

According to the First Street Foundation and Columbia University, the increased risk of flooding and damage is hurting property values throughout New England.

That report states that New Hampshire has already seen a $15 million loss in property value – particularly in areas like Hampton, Exeter, Dover, and Portsmouth.

Combined with the rest of the New England states – coastal properties have experienced approximately $400 million in property value losses just between 2005 and 2017.

But the extent of those losses is just beginning of the damage.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association has estimated that New Hampshire’s sea levels are expected to rise between 0.6 and 2.0 feet by 2050 and between 1.6 and 6.6 feet by 2100.

And according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, rising seas could threaten more than 5,000 homes on the Seacoast of New Hampshire by the end of the century.

Our climate is changing. Sea levels are rising. This is undebatable, and climate change and sea level rise are not threats to some distant time in the future. These threats, this damage, it’s here. These threats are taking their toll now.

The people of New Hampshire know this. We are witnessing climate change in our communities in real time as storms get more intense and the flood waters go higher.

It is our responsibility to help our communities adapt to these changes and this starts with focusing on efforts like coastal resiliency to help vulnerable communities prepare, and on improving our infrastructure, and developing strategies to help plan ahead of storms and extreme weather events.

At the local level, Granite Staters on the Seacoast are already being proactive on this front.

Community members have formed advocacy groups and local governments have focused on addressing these challenges head-on and developing resilience strategies.

We have to support their efforts.

But, Madame President, we must also do more.

We need to redouble efforts to cut carbon emissions, conserve and protect our natural resources, and to build a stronger clean energy future.

Madame President – people are calling on us to act.

Study after study has shown that as more Americans see the direct threats from climate change in their own communities and in the lives of their fellow citizens, they are becoming increasingly worried.

It’s time for us to start dealing with reality and to address their concerns.  

I will keep working to address climate change, and to achieve a cleaner environment and stronger energy future that will help our citizens, our economy, and our businesses thrive.

I urge my colleagues to join us in those efforts, and again I thank Senator Whitehouse in being a leader in those efforts

Thank you, Madame President, I yield the floor.

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