SLAUGHTER BEACH — As part of Delaware’s Coastal Protection Week, officials, including U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., visited the shorelines of Slaughter Beach Tuesday.
Sen. Carper, who is chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, is hosting the week in an effort to highlight the need to protect coastal communities from the worsening impacts of climate change.
The event was attended by a variety of guests including U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., Slaughter Beach Mayor Kathy Lock, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn Garvin, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers District Commander Lt. Col. Ramon Brigantti.
Slaughter Beach has been heavily impacted by recent nor’easters, as well as the impacts of climate change. Last year, the Oct. 29 nor’easter significantly eroded the shoreline, however, DNREC was able to assist, repairing the area with 15,000 cubic yards of sand.
In the fight to combat climate change, Sen. Carper and Rep. Blunt Rochester introduced the Shoreline Health Oversight, Restoration, Resilience, and Enhancement Act earlier this month to provide shoreline and riverbank protection.
The act, which aids the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, aims to restore the nation’s riverbanks and coastlines, while also making communities more resilient to the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels, extreme weather, flooding and erosion.
The mission to repair Delaware’s shorelines will benefit the local coastal communities, and for Mayor Lock, the area is getting assistance at the right time.
“The Delaware Bay shore is huge for horseshoe crabs and other wildlife. It’s a really critical habitat and our beach needs help,” said Mayor Lock. “I’m very thankful that we can help our coast. It’s one of the most exciting things to happen to our beach in a long time.”
The visit to Slaughter Beach was an important one for Sen. Carper, who explained that it was at the nearby shores of Dewey Beach where he decided to run for state treasurer in 1976, kickstarting his political career. Sen. Carper stated that even though a lot has shifted since then, it’s not too late to combat the effects of climate change.
“There wasn’t a lot of talk about climate change back then, but we know what we know now. The planet is warming, sea levels are rising. If we don’t act, climate change will only go faster,” said Sen. Carper.
Delaware’s Coastal Protection Week comes after a recent report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which outlined the potential effects of climate change in the future. The report projects that the United States is expected to experience as much sea level rise by the year 2050 as it witnessed in the previous hundred years.
Rep. Blunt Rochester noted the effects of climate change are not exclusive to the environment and wildlife, and that fighting back against those effects will benefit everyone in the long run.
“Sen. Carper has been a stalwart and advocate for many years, and he’s someone I personally look up to particularly as it relates to the environment,” she said. “The environment, the economy, tourism, quality of life for the residents, they’re all connected. There’s so much to see, and we want to take what we see today back to Washington, D.C.”
Rep. Blunt Rochester said it was an honor for her to join the Environment and Climate Change subcommittee in the House Committee of Energy and Commerce, stating that she knows the issues of climate change and the environment are important to Delawareans.
Events continued Tuesday afternoon at the Indian River Inlet, where a press conference was held to announce the $43 million investment for finishing and repairing the Indian River Inlet with funds through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Coastal Protection Week will conclude Wednesday with the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee field hearing at Bethany Beach Town Hall.
The hearing will be attended by Sen. Carper and Rep. Blunt Rochester along with Louisiana Gov. J.B. Edwards, Delaware Gov. John Carney, Mayor Lock, Maj. Graham, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commanding General for South Atlantic Division Brig. Gen. Jason E. Kelly, and Coastal States Organization Executive Director Derek Brockbank.
The issue of climate change and its effects on the environment is a frequent topic of debate, especially during election season, however, Sen. Carper says Delawareans should have confidence in his efforts to combat these changes, as well as the resolve of President Joe Biden.
“We have a leader in the White House who understands the importance of these issues, and we have to build back more resilient, and that’s a big focus of what we’re doing” said Sen. Carper. “When people ask, ‘When did it turn around?’, we’ll tell them it turned around today.”