Mass. Governor Takes Aim at Making State, Its Infrastructure More Resilient to Future Storms

Statement by Ken Kimmell, President

Published Mar 15, 2018

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (March 15, 2018)—In the wake of a record four Nor’easters along the East Coast in a few short months, Governor Baker of Massachusetts today announced a plan aimed at better preparing the state and its needed infrastructure for future storms.

Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of the Cambridge-based Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Kimmell is also the former commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

“In March alone the Bay State has seen three Nor’easters in rapid succession, with another one potentially on the way. Residents are still reeling from the destruction caused by these storms, which damaged properties, left hundreds of thousands of people without power and contributed to loss of life.

“The extreme weather hitting Massachusetts has made it painfully obvious that our state and its residents are vulnerable and we need a plan protecting infrastructure we depend on daily, including: roads, buildings, electrical grid, airports, dams and water supplies. Exacerbated by climate change, these storms can form faster and gain strength, and rising seas are increasing damaging flooding in our coastal communities. The storms are propelling us into a new era—one where Massachusetts is forced to confront the reality of living in a warming world.

“In 2016, Governor Baker took a first step towards building a more resilient Massachusetts by issuing an executive order requiring agencies to prepare for climate change. He expanded on this work today, by filing legislation to authorize a $1.4 billion environmental bond that will go a long way to enhance safety, avoid costs and use our natural landscape to combat the impacts of climate change. Now more than ever, Massachusetts also needs the Legislature to follow suit by passing legislation to address both the immediate and the long-term threats of climate change.”

According to a 2017 peer-reviewed, published study “When Rising Seas Hit Home” by UCS, with rates of sea level rise well within widely accepted projections by climate scientists, the general area of Boston that flooded during these four recent Nor’easters would flood at least 26 times per year in 2060 with just normal tidal fluctuations as opposed to extreme storm events. That is roughly 40 years from now, well within the lifetime of the buildings and infrastructure we continue to build in these areas.