Vol. 37 Iss. 9 - December 21, 2020


Establishment of the Virginia Coastal Resilience Technical Advisory Committee

Importance of Initiative

In response to the growing threat of natural hazards and sea level rise in the Commonwealth, I issued Executive Order 24, Increasing Virginia's Resilience to Sea Level Rise and Natural Hazards, in 2018. This Order, instructed the Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), with the assistance of the Special Assistant to the Governor for Coastal Adaptation and Protection (SACAP), to create and implement a Coastal Resilience Master Plan (Master Plan). The Master Plan will guide coastal adaptation and protection efforts, align state programs, and prioritize local and regional projects. In October 2020, I approved the Virginia Coastal Resilience Master Planning Framework (Framework), which outlines the guiding principles, goals, and actions necessary to create a full Master Plan.

Since coastal resilience and protection encompasses many policy initiatives, state agencies, and federal resources, a significant amount of coordination is required to protect Virginia's Coastal Regions as defined in the Framework. Creating the Virginia Coastal Resilience Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) will help facilitate that coordination. The TAC will support the CRO and the SACAP in evaluating coastal adaptation and protection project proposals, facilitating project implementation, and developing updates to the Master Plan.

Directive to Establish the Virginia Technical Advisory Committee

Protecting Virginia's coastal communities requires thoughtful collaboration among state, local, and regional leaders, federal partners, scientific experts, and stakeholders. The TAC will facilitate this coordination and develop recommendations for specific, place based, prioritized coastal adaptation and protection strategies. Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as Governor, under Article V of the Constitution of Virginia and §§ 2.2-134 and 2.2-135 of the Code of Virginia, and subject to my continuing and ultimate authority to act in such matters, I hereby formally convene the TAC to provide independent advice and recommendations to the Office of the Governor and relevant executive branch agencies.

A. Composition and Support of the Committee

The TAC will be comprised of representatives of state agencies, coastal planning district commissions (PDCs) and regional commissions (RCs), and academic advisors, among others. Members shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor and shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following individuals or their designees:

• The Executive Directors of each of the eight coastal PDCs/RCs;

• The Director of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation;

• The Director of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management;

• The Director of the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development;

• The Executive Director of the Virginia Resources Authority;

• The Director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality;

• The Director of the Virginia Transportation Research Council;

• The Commissioner of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission;

• The Coordinator of the Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency;

• The Virginia Institute for Marine Science Associate Dean for Research and Advisory Services;

• The Director of the William and Mary Law School Coastal Policy Center;

• The Director of the Virginia Tech Center for Coastal Studies;

• The Director of the Environmental Resilience Institute at the University of Virginia;

• The Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk District;

• The Director of Virginia Sea Grant;

• The Governor's Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer; and

• The Governor's Chief Data Officer.

The CRO will serve as chair of the TAC. Staff support will be provided by the SACAP with assistance from the Coastal Zone Management Program (CZM), pursuant to a separate agreement. Appointed TAC members will serve in an advisory role without compensation in accordance with § 2.2-2100 of the Code of Virginia, and will meet quarterly, at a minimum, as well as upon the call of the chair.

B. Duties of the Committee

1. Assist with Creation of the Master Plan

The TAC shall assist the CRO and SACAP with creating a full Master Plan by developing and implementing protocols for evaluation of projects and strategy proposals. Once the Master Plan process and initial Master Plan are finalized, the TAC will continue to facilitate implementation, evaluate progress, and develop Master Plan updates. In alignment with the guiding principles of the Virginia Master Planning Framework, actions recommended by the TAC will:

1. Acknowledge climate change and its consequences and base decision making on the best available science;

2. Identify and address socioeconomic inequities and work to enhance equity through coastal adaptation and protection efforts;

3. Recognize the importance of protecting and enhancing green infrastructure, such as natural coastal barriers and fish and wildlife habitat, by prioritizing nature-based solutions; and

4. Utilize community and regional scale planning to the maximum extent possible, seeing region-specific approaches tailored to the needs of individual communities.

2. Perform Risk Assessments and Provide Recommendations

In support of completing the Master Plan, the TAC will be responsible for tracking scientific developments, reviewing proposed local and regional actions, and recommending additional risk assessment and engineering studies as required to support:

1. Developing a Prioritized List of Coastal Adaptation and Protection Projects

The TAC, working with the CRO and SACAP, will submit a prioritized list of both built and natural infrastructure coastal adaptation and protection projects as part of the Master Plan by December, 2021. This list will identify critical infrastructure needs, at-risk communities, adaptation strategies, and specific resilience projects to include with the Master Plan. It will be organized by the four Virginia Coastal Regions of Hampton Roads, Rural Coastal Virginia, the Northern Fall Line, and the Southern Fall Line, as categorized in the Framework.

2. Creating Evaluative Criteria for Master Plan Projects

Consistent with the guiding principles of the Framework, the TAC will create evaluative criteria for Master Plan supported projects. The prioritized list of built and infrastructure projects, mentioned above, will serve as one element of the TAC evaluation criteria. The TAC will use this criterion to review Master Plan project proposals and make recommendations for state engagement in project implementation. In cooperation with the CRO, the TAC will also incorporate the ConserveVirginia initiative to assess coastal adaptation and protection strategies.

3. Making Recommendations to Strengthen State and Non-State Partnerships

Coastal adaptation and protection strategies should align with other federal and state programs, including those focused on resilience, economic and community development, and flooding adaptation and protection initiatives. The TAC shall make recommendations regarding how the Commonwealth can strengthen partnerships with the Department of Defense and other federal installations, as well as:

i. Align economic development initiatives, Framework, and Master Plan objectives, and

ii. Coordinate across multiple resilience, pre-disaster, urban development, and flooding adaptation grant programs.

These recommendations will focus on programs administered by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Department of Housing and Community Development, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Effective Date of the Executive Order

This Executive Order shall be effective upon signing and shall remain in full force unless amended or rescinded by further executive order.

Given under my hand and under the Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia this 16th day of November 2020.

/s/ Ralph S. Northam