WASHINGTON (July 16, 2021) – Today the Department of the Interior announced it will overturn a Trump-era rule that weakened the Coastal Barrier Resources Act. Jessica Grannis, interim vice president of coastal conservation at the National Audubon Society, made the following statement in response:
“Audubon applauds Interior’s action to reverse the unlawful Trump-era rule that would have allowed sand mining in sensitive coastal habitats. These pristine beaches and islands protected by the Coastal Barrier Resources Act will remain intact to provide coastal communities a buffer against climate change, as well as habitat for birds, for generations to come.”
Last year the National Audubon Society, represented by Democracy Forward, filed suit against the Trump administration to defend the Coastal Barrier Resources Act against then-Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt’s unlawful Excavation Rule, which allowed taxpayer money to be used for dredging sand from protected coastal areas. In June, a report by the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service documented the many harmful impacts of sand mining on the coastal environment and nearby communities.
“The Trump administration’s unlawful policy incentivizes destructive dredging of coastal barriers needed to protect coastal communities from storms and protect important habitats,” said Aman George, counsel & legal policy director for Democracy Forward. “We are pleased that the Biden administration has chosen to take steps to reverse this unlawful, potentially disastrous policy.”
The Coastal Barrier Resources Act, created in 1982, prohibits nearly all federal expenditures in a system of hurricane- and storm-prone coastal areas, which covers 3.5 million acres along the Atlantic Coast, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. A 2019 study found that the Coastal Barrier Resources Act saved taxpayers $9.5 billion over 25 years by banning taxpayer-funded development in these areas, with a projected additional savings of $11-109 billion over the next 50 years.
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive.
Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization founded in 2017 to litigate challenges to unlawful executive branch action on behalf of organizations, individuals, and municipalities. The organization has taken 650 legal actions and reversed dozens of harmful policies. Democracy Forward is expanding its work, building on its success to confront unlawful threats to democracy and social progress.