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Florida lawmakers back sea level impact studies

File photo
File photo

Local governments would have to study potential sea-level impacts when building coastal structures with state dollars, under a bill headed to the House floor.

The House State Affairs Committee on Monday unanimously approved a measure (HB 579) that would prohibit city or county governments from starting work on state-funded coastal structures without first conducting Sea Level Impact Projection, or SLIP, studies. Bill sponsor Vance Aloupis, R-Miami, said the measure wouldn’t prevent coastal construction.

However, it would authorize the Department of Environmental Protection to seek injunctions to halt work by local governments that use state money until the studies are conducted.

The department could also seek to recover state dollars if work is completed without studies.

A House analysis says the studies “will identify risks that could potentially avoid damage and loss of coastal structures, so the bill may result in an indeterminate positive fiscal impact to local governments in the long-term.”

A similar Senate bill (SB 178), sponsored by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, has cleared four committees and is ready to go to the full Senate.

The House’s proposed $91.37 billion budget for next fiscal year includes $6 million for the Florida Resilient Coastline Initiative, which would allow the Department of Environmental Protection to implement new regulations.