Protecting our coasts ought to be among the top issues facing members of Congress. It is with that admonition that I welcome news about legislation designed to do precisely that in the wake of a monster hurricane that stormed ashore in Texas.
The U.S. House is considering the most expensive coastal protection project in history. It’s called the National Defense Authorization Act and its pricetag is a doozy: $34 billion.
Hurricane Ike roared across Galveston Island in September 2008, threatening the Houston Channel and putting the nation’s petrochemical industry in dire peril.
Now, I have no intention of taking credit I don’t deserve, but I happen to be one journalist who’s been talking about coastal protection for decades. It became a favorite issue of mine when I worked for the Beaumont Enterprise from 1984 until 1995. I became acquainted with a Texas land commissioner, Garry Mauro, who also deemed coastal protection to be critical to our national survival.
Coastal erosion long has been a hazard to the Gulf Coast, with wetlands being consumed by rising gulf tides every year.
I am heartened to see the aggressive measures taken by Congress. As The Associated Press reported, “The Texas coastal protection project far outstrips any of the 24 other projects greenlit by the bill” under consideration by the House.
Hey, it’s a big deal! How big? Consider that one particular project calls for the construction of a coastal barrier the size of a 60-story building laid on its side that aims to prevent storm surge from entering Galveston Bay and endangering the Houston Ship Channel.
Construction will take two decades to complete.
Got it? That’s big! It’s also important!