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David C.
Democrat RI 1

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  • John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System Boundaries Revision

    by Representative David N. Cicilline

    Posted on 2014-12-01

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    CICILLINE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 3572, which includes a provision I introduced as H.R. 277, to revise the boundaries of Coastal Barrier Resources System units in Rhode Island. I want to begin by thanking Chairman Hastings and Ranking Member DeFazio for working with me to bring this important fix to the floor today.

    I want to extend a personal thank you to Chairman Hastings for his ongoing cooperation in helping to advance legislation to make the Blackstone River Valley, the birthplace of America's industrial revolution, a national park.

    I want to say, Mr. Speaker, this legislation represents the culmination of several years of evaluation, research, study, public input, and review regarding the existing map of the Coastal Barrier Resources System in my State.

    All four units in Rhode Island that would be replaced with a modernized, revised map under this legislation were included within the CBRS, according to the Coastal Barrier Improvement Act of 1990. It has been discovered that various private lands were inappropriately included in otherwise protected areas within the CBRS and that there were other technical inaccuracies.

    The proposed revisions in my bill were approved by local cities and towns and other stakeholders, including the Norman Bird Sanctuary and the Audubon Society, who would be impacted; furthermore, including identified wetland and upland areas of both Almy Pond and Lily Pond is essential for protecting local habitat.

    Importantly, the revisions would also remove eight privately-owned structures that were inappropriately included within the Coastal Barrier Resources System.

    The changes in this bill will positively impact my district and my constituents, particularly the ones whose private property was inadvertently included in the original map. The passage of this legislation will also benefit the surrounding communities that have long anticipated a more coherent, comprehensive system that protects critical aquatic habitat and coastal lands while protecting access to areas used for recreational purposes.

    I want to highlight the case of one constituent in particular. Philip Howell cannot obtain Federal flood insurance for his property that was incorrectly included in the CBRA map. As a result, his coastal property has gone without flood insurance during serious weather events like Superstorm Sandy.

    An inability to purchase flood insurance has also caused Mr. Howell to take on serious financial risks related to damages that he would potentially be unable to cover out of his own pocket; moreover, without flood insurance coverage, he has found it difficult to purchase regular homeowner's insurance from competing brokers at affordable rates.

    While Mr. Howell and most of my constituents support the intent of the Coastal Barrier Resources System to protect neighboring habitat and recreation, they also have been overly burdened by innocent mapping mistakes that were made more than two decades ago.

    As such, I urge my colleagues to support passage of H.R. 3572 to ensure that coastal barrier mapping irregularities are rectified and the system works as it was intended.

    I, again, thank Chairman Hastings and Ranking Member DeFazio for their assistance.

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