US Representative James Clyburn & State Representative Spencer Wetmore Join Local Environmental Experts to Highlight Federal Efforts to Promote Coastal Resilience
Speakers emphasized ways federal investments are helping to protect communities from extreme weather events fueled by climate change
Charleston, South Carolina — U.S. Representative James Clyburn joined State Representative Spencer Wetmore, and David Kieve, president of EDF Action, the advocacy partner of the Environmental Defense Fund, to highlight the critical ways federal investments included in President Biden’s clean energy plan, which includes the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), will improve South Carolina’s coastal resilience. This funding will protect communities from tropical storms and flooding in the face of increasingly frequent extreme weather fueled by climate change.
“Passing the Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act were my top priorities in Congress because I understood how much they would deliver for South Carolina and particularly the Lowcountry,” said U.S. Representative James Clyburn (SC-06). “These federal investments have been, and will continue to be, transformative for South Carolina. From creating jobs to fortifying our communities against extreme weather, they will help prepare every South Carolinian for a changing world — no matter where they live or how much money they make.”
Millions of Americans suffer the effects of climate change daily with severe weather events like heat waves, hurricanes, floods, droughts becoming ever-more common. South Carolina, and especially the Lowcountry, is not immune. In just the last decade, the state has experienced 37 extreme weather events, costing up to $20 billion in damages.
Only a few weeks ago, in mid-December, a storm wrought havoc on South Carolina’s coast with strong winds and record-breaking rainfall. More than nine inches of rain came down on the area between Charleston and Myrtle Beach, flooding streets and areas not normally prone to such a deluge. But with rising sea levels caused by climate change, experts note that even weaker weather systems can now create impacts similar to hurricanes.
“For communities like Folly Beach that are vulnerable to extreme weather, these federal funds could not come soon enough,” said State Representative Spencer Wetmore (D-Folly Beach). “As recently as late December, a nor’easter washed away as much as 20 feet of our sand dunes – dunes that provide key protections against flooding. If we are going to thrive as a community, bringing tourists in and growing our economy, we have to do more to protect these vital assets. And that’s precisely what the IIJA and IRA investments have helped – and will continue to help – us to do.”
Key for the efforts to advance environmental justice, the IRA includes funding to upgrade affordable housing, in which tens of thousands of South Carolina residents live. These homes are eligible for essential improvements like flood-proofing and storm resistance, in addition to clean energy and electrification. A new Neighborhood Access and Equity Grant Program provides support for transportation projects and planning to protect against flooding, extreme heat and more.
“From significant coastal erosion to intense flooding, people living in the Lowcountry have borne more than their share of the cost of the climate crisis for too long,” said David Kieve, President of EDF Action. “Without Rep. Clyburn’s leadership, neither the Inflation Reduction Act - the most important piece of climate legislation ever enacted - nor the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law would have gotten to President Biden’s desk. Those laws are bringing home essential federal funding for coastal resilience projects and fortifying communities for the long-term. They’re also lowering costs for families - capping the cost of insulin and also making it easier for people to save money by making sure the future is electric and made here in America. We are thrilled to be here today with the Congressman and local leaders to highlight these essential programs.”