Earlier this year, Virginia’s legislature commissioned a study to determine the impacts of climate change on the state’s shores. After Tea Party complaints, lawmakers approved the report on condition it strike the words “climate change” and “sea level rise” from the title.
This week, Virginia released its analysis, under the title “Recurrent Flooding Study for Tidewater Virginia.” The report discusses the threat of flooding and rising sea levels to coastal Virginia, but gives less notice to the causes of climate change.
State Delegate Chris Stolle (R), a climate denier himself, deemed terms like “sea level rise” “liberal code words” and insisted on cutting them from the report’s description. The Virginia Tea Party originally slammed the study as “more ridiculous studies designed to separate us from our money and control all land and water use.”
The science backing climate change is noncontroversial. Even the modified report recognizes the reality of the changing climate:
Sea level rise in Virginia is a documented fact. Water levels in Hampton Roads have risen more than one foot over the past 80 years. The causes of this rise are well understood and current analyses suggest the rate of rise is increasing.
Despite the report’s concrete recommendations that Virginia “should immediately begin comprehensive and coordinated planning efforts,” lawmakers have already decided to ignore it, even though Virginia cities spend millions each year elevating roads and replacing piers to withstand flooding. The Virginian-Pilot writes, “State Sen. Ralph Northam, a Democrat who represents Norfolk and the Eastern Shore, and who was a co-patron of the study request last year, said he has no plans to introduce legislation on sea level rise this year. Neither does state Del. Chris Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, who also was a co-patron of the study last year.”