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Roads to Nowhere in Four States: State and Local Governments in the Atlantic Southeast Facing Sea-Level Rise

August 2020

Citation: 50 ELR 10656

Issue: 8

Author: Shana Campbell Jones, Thomas Ruppert, Erin L. Deady, Heather Payne, J. Scott Pippin, Ling-Yee Huang, and Jason M. Evans

Local governments in the coastal zone play a key role in adapting to the changing climate. This Article presents an analysis of coastal communities in four states, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, and provides three proposals for local governments that take action to address climate impacts: (1) redefining the scope of the duties that define reasonable conduct for governments making decisions about public infrastructure in an era of rising sea levels; (2) defining the scope of sovereign immunity protections in a way that encourages innovative and creative decisionmaking in an era of climate uncertainty; and (3) calling for consistent adaptation duties and authorities at the state level as a crucial first step in mending the legal-standards patchwork that currently exists at the state, county, and city levels in our four-state study area.

Shana Campbell Jones, Esq., is Associate Public Service Faculty at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia and Director of the Georgia Sea Grant Legal Program. Thomas Ruppert, Esq., is the Coastal Planning Specialist for Florida Sea Grant. Erin L. Deady, Esq., is President of Erin L. Deady, P.A., in Delray Beach. Heather Payne is an Associate Professor of Law at Seton Hall Law School. J. Scott Pippin, Esq., is Assistant Public Service Faculty at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia. Ling-Yee Huang, Esq., is a private consultant focusing on water and policy issues. Jason M. Evans is an Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Studies at Stetson University.

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