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Warner, Kaine push Trump to follow through on commitment to Tangier Island

mark warner tim kaineU.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to work with them to fulfill the assurances he made to local leaders on Virginia’s Tangier Island about the future of their community.

In a widely reported June 2017 call, President Trump reached out Tangier Mayor James “Ooker” Eskridge after seeing a CNN report on the Island and assured him that the Island would be around for hundreds of years. Right now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that if immediate action is not taken, Tangier Island could be substantially uninhabitable within the next 50 years due to erosion, commonly believed to be caused by sea level rise due to climate change. The island currently shrinks by 15 feet each year.

“We write to follow up on your commitment to Tangier Island, Virginia,” Warner and Kaine wrote. “It meant a great deal for the President of the United States to call Tangier’s mayor and give personal assurance of the island’s future. As Virginia’s U.S. Senators, we wish to work with you to preserve this unique community for future generations.”

The Senators also stressed that whatever one believes the causes of the problem are – sea level rise, erosion, or other – the time is now for solutions.

“We can debate the causes for why this is happening, but regardless, the effects are clear. It is urgent that we address those effects.”

Warner and Kaine, both former governors of Virginia, have each traveled to Tangier Island and seen the island’s vulnerability to rising sea levels, erosion and storm surge first hand. In the letter, they list several ways President Trump and his Administration can work with them to help residents on the island:

  • Expedite a proposed study on Tangier’s infrastructure needs that is currently working its way through the Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Give full and fair consideration to an Army Corps proposal for Tangier to be selected for a new beneficial re-use dredge fill pilot project authorized in the WIIN Act (WRDA 2016).
  • Instruct the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to become more involved in managing an area of the island that was formerly inhabited but has become too low-lying and now serves only as wildlife habitat as, “an opportunity to advance the agency’s wildlife mission while also helping out a community in need.”