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Connecticut Sen. Murphy wants more time, resources for $3 billion effort to protect coasts

Great Meadows Marsh Restoration
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
Jay Hinchey looks back as an excavator loads his dump truck with fill from the Great Meadows Marsh in Stratford, Connecticut. The company he works for is removing invasive species and regrading the marsh after fill was dumped there after years of development along the coastline. Because of development and population density along the shoreline, the natural movement of Connecticut’s marshland has been limited as the sea level along Long Island Sound rises.

Communities across the country are hoping to get a piece of the $3 billion set aside in recent federal legislation for projects that will protect coasts and shoreline communities. U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy from Connecticut is giving federal authorities some early feedback.

In a letter to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, Murphy shared some points he got from stakeholders interested in bringing back as much funding to the state as possible.

“We had some real priorities we wanted to let NOAA know about before they decided how to spend this money so that a big chunk of it could come to Connecticut,” Murphy said.

One main point of emphasis? Building skills at the local level to help with coastal resiliency project development.

“Capacity building matters in Connecticut, because we are a state of 169 municipalities, and we have a lot of small towns along the shoreline,” Murphy said. “They don’t have the built-in expertise to answer all the questions about how you restore a coastal habitat or protect against storm surge.”

He also thinks funding research is key. Finally, Murphy says towns and cities need more time to get the technical assistance they need to apply for the funding.

“If you rush this, if you just do only the shovel-ready projects, you’re actually not going to do the projects that are going to get you the most long-term benefits,” Murphy said.

The funding comes from federal legislation addressing national infrastructure and inflation.

Jeff Cohen started in newspapers in 2001 and joined Connecticut Public in 2010, where he worked as a reporter and fill-in host. In 2017, he was named news director. Then, in 2022, he became a senior enterprise reporter.

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