Report: Even Simple Protections Against Rising Seas Could Carry Big Cost in Virginia

Jun 20, 2019

An organization seeking to hold big oil accountable for global warming estimates it will cost more than $31 billion for Virginia to protect coastal communities from sea-level rise.

The Center for Climate Integrity report looked specifically at the cost for hardening shorelines with rip rap or berms to safeguard communities vulnerable to chronic flooding over the next 20 years.

Skip Stiles of Wetland Watch in Norfolk worked on the report. "It's a black and white, simplistic approach

Many roads in the Northern Neck were damaged like this one in Westmoreland County after Hurricane Michael last October.
Credit Izaak Hagy

to try and get some estimate of cost," Stiles explains. "Finding public infrastructure, non-military infrastructure that was going to be inundated and saying alright let's put a simple berm around that infrastructure and not a 100-year flood wall, not a FEMA-approved flood wall but a simple berm to protect against what they call a one-year flood."

And it's not just coastal cities we often hear about like Virginia Beach and Hampton. Virginia's Eastern Shore and Northern Neck on the Chesapeake Bay are listed among the top ten counties that will incur billions of dollars to safeguard businesses, homes and roads. Accomack County, which includes Tangier Island is listed as having the highest cost at $4.9 billion while Northumberland County was listed second at $2.3 billion compared to Virginia Beach at $1.7 billion.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.