Debate Over Rebuilding Beaches Post-Sandy Creates Waves
“This is a particularly silly form of disaster relief,” says Eli Lehrer of the libertarian R Street Institute. He’s also co-founder of SmarterSafer, a Washington, D.C., coalition of environmental groups and budget watchdogs.
“Beach renourishment creates a false sense of security that tends to induce development in the very areas where it’s most likely to be destroyed by nature’s worst,” he says.
In other words, create a wide swath of sand, and people will build there — even if it would otherwise be deemed folly. Lehrer says replenishing remote barrier islands is the most egregious waste of taxpayer money. For a tourism-dependent place like Virginia Beach, he concedes it makes economic sense for that particular town.
“If it’s going to be paid for with public dollars at all, those public dollars ought to be collected very much at the local level,” he says.