Fairfax,VA, December 19, 2020 – Legislation to establish a constituent-driven program in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide a digital information platform capable of efficiently integrating coastal data with decision-support tools, training, and best practices and support collection of priority coastal geospatial data to inform and improve local, State, regional, and Federal management of the coastal region became law Friday when President Trump signed S. 1069, the Digital Coast Act.
“As the leading proponent of this important legislation, we’re pleased that Congress, on a bipartisan basis, and the President, came together to pass the Digital Coast Act into law,” said John M. Palatiello, partner in Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies, LLC, parent of John M. Palatiello & Associates, Inc. (JMP&A).
The Digital Coast Partnership Advocacy Coalition, the broad alliance of organizations supporting the legislation in Congress, was managed by JMP&A. Member organizations include: American Planning Association (APA); Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM); Coastal States Organization (CSO); National Association of Counties (NACo); National Estuarine Research Reserve Association (NERRA); National Flood Association (NFA); National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS); National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC); The Nature Conservancy (TNC); and U.S. Geospatial Executives Organization (U.S. GEO). NSPS and U.S. GEO are JMP&A clients. Passage of the bill was a 10-year effort.
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) said, “This legislation will strengthen the incredibly popular Digital Coast Program, which makes it possible for local leaders in our coastal communities to make decisions with clear, current, and useful information. While Digital Coast helps make management choices clear, the work behind those decision tools is incredibly complex. I am proud to support the great work of geospatial professionals and coastal management experts in the private sector and at all levels of government who make it possible for local leaders to have clear data that informs their decisions. The Digital Coast Act will strengthen this important program and support the great work they do to deliver top notch, reliable information relied on by emergency responders, coastal planners, and businesses.”
“Wisconsin’s Great Lakes are a great asset for our quality of life and also for our long-term economic security,” said Senator Baldwin. “I’m proud that this bipartisan legislation has passed both chambers of Congress to strengthen our shoreline communities, which face a variety of challenges to keep their harbors open, their waters clean and their beaches ready for visitors. This bipartisan bill ensures that our Great Lakes communities have the resources and tools they need to adapt to changing environmental conditions, maintain healthy shores, and make smart planning decisions to support their local economies and way of life.”
Representative Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), sponsor of the companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, said, “While it is critical to coastal communities like mine in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, we all have a stake in protecting America’s shorelines. This bill is more important now than it was when I first introduced it ten years ago. We’re seeing more storms that are stronger and sea level rise is accelerating. We can’t wait any longer. Today, we’re arming local planners and managers with the tools they need to save people and property.”
The primary cosponsor in the House, Rep. Don Young (R-AK), said, “No other state in the nation understands the need for coastal resilience and mapping more than Alaska. With more than 44,000 miles of coastline, much of which is not fully mapped, Alaska’s coastal communities rely heavily on our waterways and shipping channels to support all forms of social and economic prosperity: goods from the Lower 48, critical transportation needs, search and rescue operations, and the state’s largest private-sector employer – our fishing industry. The Digital Coast Act is an important step towards developing a system that supports our coastal communities, and serves our national security and economic needs. I am grateful to my colleagues in both the House and Senate for supporting its passage.”
The lead Senate co-sponsor is Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
“The enactment of this bill is a testimony to the extraordinary leadership and tenacity of John “JB” Byrd of our firm”, Palatiello said. “JB patiently and methodically coordinated efforts among the coalition partners and supported members of Congress and staff, engaged a number of geospatial firms, and kept key NOAA staff aware of progress on the legislation throughout the long, arduous process. His professionalism, knowledge of Congress, and consensus building was evident and a major reason for the success of the Digital Coast Act.”
John M. Palatiello & Associates, Inc., (www.jmpa.us) a public affairs consulting firm based in the Washington, DC suburb of Fairfax, VA, provides government relations, public relations, association management, strategic planning, event planning, and management and marketing consulting services to private firms, associations, and government agencies with an emphasis on the architecture and engineering; geospatial, mapping and GIS; construction; transportation and infrastructure, and land use sectors. The firm is a subsidiary of Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies, LLC (www.mwcapitol.com).