Meanwhile, In Annapolis: Ian will bring more rain to the Mid-Atlantic. That’s what Dan Nees is preparing for.

Image: Sean Hunt sings on the trunk of his damaged car in front of his camper in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Fort Myers, FL. Hurricane Ian left much of coastal southwest Florida in darkness early on Thursday, bringing “catastrophic” flooding that left officials readying a huge emergency response to a storm of rare intensity. (By RICARDO ARDEUNGO/AFP via GETTY IMAGES)

ANNAPOLIS, MD — If the weather forecast is right, we’re going to see some significant rain over the next several days.

Hurricane Ian will probably work its way up the coast by mid-week, drenching the Mid-Atlantic as it cools and changes to a subtropical storm.

Everyone is thinking about hurricanes right now, as the devastation in Puerto Rico and Florida becomes clear. But what Dan Nees thinks about a lot is rain. Because while tropical storms are huge events with the potential to do massive damage, increasing rainfall is an aspect of climate change that will likely have a greater impact.

Nees is the Interim Director of the Resilience Authority of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, named to the job last spring after helping the county set up the idea to help cope with the impact of climate change.

Since then, he’s been trying to lay the groundwork for the eventual permanent director expected to be named next year.

“If you wait you’ve lost the opportunity to be productive,” Nees said in an interview shortly after taking the job.

There is a lot of money flowing from the federal government into climate resilience right now. The Inflation Reduction Act passed over the summer will inject billions into this field, and Maryland is poised to take advantage of that money through entities such as local resilience authorities.

Nees is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Sustainability [and Director, Policy & Finance at Throwe Environmental, LLC] and was instrumental in the creation of the joint climate resilience authority. It will manage and allocate funds to combat rising sea levels and other environmental harms.

This week, County Executive Steuart Pittman and Annapolis Mayor announced another step [in the] creation of the Authority, appointments to the Board of Directors. They include former elected officials, finance and climate experts, construction industry executives, environmentalists, small business owners and experts on environmental justice.

The most visible project so far is the rebuilding of City Dock in Annapolis, which trades off the value of the city’s parking garage to fund some of the work.

“The perception is, this is just a way for the county to funnel money into Annapolis,” [Nees] said shortly after taking over the position.

But the rain falls everywhere, and as the climate continues to warm over the next half century, that will mean the Resilience Authority has the opportunity to affect people across the county who face changes in the form of increased rain, flash flooding, extreme heat and sea level rise.

Nees said these changes will put increased pressure on the taxpayer and county government. Some of that will be entrepreneurial, partnerships with the private sector designed to take advantage of increased federal spending, tax incentives and other factors that will provide incentives.

Getting programs and guidelines established is part of what he’s been working toward, so the permanent director can hit the ground running.

State Sen. Sarah Elfreth, [an] Annapolis Democrat, authored legislation creating the Authority and was also the force behind several other measures that could come into play for the Authority, such as carbon tax credits tied to clean water projects across Maryland.

And she expects more legislation to follow, including an update of Maryland’s building codes to deal with new rainfall forecasts.

What happens next may depend on the outcome of the November election. The appointment of a permanent director isn’t scheduled until after the first of the year.

County Councilwoman Jessica Haire, the Republican challenger facing Pittman, has said she thought the work could have been accomplished within county government. She listed it among possible examples of programs and positions she would consider eliminating or reworking through cost-cutting measures if elected.

More money for climate adaptation?

Thursday brought news that a federal judge in Baltimore has granted a request by the City of Annapolis to move its lawsuits against oil companies back to state court.

More than a year ago, Annapolis joined a long line of jurisdictions suing 26 oil and gas companies over damages caused by climate change driven by the use of petrochemicals. The courts have already ruled that Baltimore’s lawsuit should be returned to state court, so the Annapolis action was a follow on.

The increasing number of state and local government lawsuits seeking to hold oil companies accountable for any role they played in ignoring the life-altering consequences of fossil fuel use are being filed in state and not federal court.

By moving the trial to state courts, Anne Arundel County Circuit Court in the case of the Annapolis lawsuit, attorneys get to use Maryland’s discovery process to search through company records for proof that the oil companies knew about the impact of fossil fuels and hid their responsibilities.

The central law governing the lawsuit is Maryland’s Consumer Protection Act.


 

This article was originally written by Rick Hutzell and published in Meanwhile, In Annapolis on September 30, 2022. The story was reposted by Throwe Environmental with the consent of the author. This reposting is a truncated version of the original article. For questions or comments on the article, please contact Rick Hutzell at meanwhileannapolis@gmail.com.