Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Beaches Along Eastern Seaboard Are Disappearing

According to this Slate story, "The beaches along the Eastern seaboard are about to disappear." Blame natural sinking of shorelines, steady sea-level rise due to global warming, and counter-productive steps taken by humans to protect beaches and beach houses. Worse, no one is listening. According to Slate, "Most coastal states have done little or nothing to regulate shoreline development, often for fear of litigation."

After the jump, what does this have to do with Texas?

Counter-intuitively perhaps, Slate says Texas, where you think of property rights being sacrosanct, has one of the most progressive laws in the nation regarding beach access, It's being put to the test now that Hurricane Ike has reshaped beaches along Texas' Gulf shore.

"The state's Open Beaches Act provides that beach as a public resource that must be protected from 'erosion or reduction caused by development.' ... Historically, the 51-year-old law has been used to prevent property owners from walling off the beach in front of their homes. But officials say the law clearly applies even when the beach comes to the houses, rather than vice versa. ... Incorporated into the state constitution last year and vigorously supported by the state's conservative, gun-packing land commissioner, the Open Beaches Act is remarkably popular, in part because it can guarantee beach access for ATVs.
There's some delicious irony there. Texas, where skepticism about global warming runs higher than probably anywhere else in the nation, has regulations in place that will help the state deal with the consequences of global warming. You can thank ATV owners for being unwitting environmentalists!

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