Coburn, A.S. and Whitehead, J.C., 2019. An analysis of federal expenditures related to the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) of 1982. Journal of Coastal Research, 35(6), 1358–1361. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.
The Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) of 1982 established the John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS), a congressionally defined set of coastal barrier units located along the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Great Lakes, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico coasts. Coastal areas in the CBRS total approximately 3.5 million acres (14,164 km2) of islands, beaches, wetlands, and associated aquatic habitat and are delineated on a set of maps enacted into law by Congress and maintained by the Department of the Interior through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Congress enacted the CBRA to minimize the loss of human life and damage to natural resources along the coasts, and to prohibit unwise federal expenditures that encourage and subsidize unwise coastal development. The CBRA approach to conservation does not prevent development and imposes no restrictions on development conducted with nonfederal funds. CBRS units may be developed, but federal taxpayers largely do not underwrite the investments. Although the CBRA has been in existence for over 35 years, the last known federal effort to quantify the benefits of the CBRA was undertaken by the USFWS in 2002, when it estimated that the CBRA would save American taxpayers approximately $1.3 billion by 2010 by restricting federal spending for roads, wastewater systems, potable water supply, and disaster relief. In this study, recent federal agency expenditure and development data were used to enumerate the historical fiscal benefits of the CBRA to U.S. taxpayers, as well as estimate potential future savings. Results indicate that the CBRA has reduced federal coastal disaster expenditures by $9.5 billion (in 2016 dollars) between 1989 and 2013. Future CBRA savings are forecast to range between $11 billion and $108 billion by 2068 (in 2016 dollars).