How the Supreme Court Made It Harder to Prepare for Climate Change

Anthony Flint, writing for the Atlantic Cities about the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent land-use ruling:

Coastal metropolitan regions have faced up to the fact that there will be increased flooding, volatile weather, and sea level rise. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has stepped up with a model $20 billion plan that is a mix of living with water and keeping it out. This is the great planning challenge of our time – and it’s expensive. So private developers should be expected to contribute to the cause. Build on a waterfront? Sure, but a condition of the permit is a contribution to a floodgate fund.

With Koontz, lawyers now have a perfect opportunity to say no way, that such a requirement is out of proportion with the modest scope of an individual development. The Koontz family bristled at the idea of restoring wetlands miles from their property. Why should one builder be held accountable for a problem the whole world is responsible for?

These are going to be tricky waters to navigate (pun intended and apologized for). Building at the water’s edge is a risk, and building codes have been established to minimize the risk of fire, flood, and so on from harming a building’s inhabitants. In some ways, mitigation funds are like building codes. But not in every way, and that’s what is going to make this complicated. 

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