Markell signs executive order, tackling climate change

By Amy Cherry 4:02pm, September 12, 2013 - Updated 5:08pm, September 12, 2013
WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.
Delaware seeks to raise awareness about rising sea levels in our low-lying coastal state.

WDEL's Amy Cherry has more.

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"Human activities are significantly contributing to climate change."

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That's why Governor Markell says Delaware needs to act now to prevent devastating effects, if we don't cut greenhouse gas emissions. Some damage has already been done.

"We've seen droughts that threaten agricultural production, and we've seen storms that topple the beaches that are absolutely essential to our tourism industry," says Markell.

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Markell's executive order calls for all state-funded projects to build to the future and adapt to increased flood heights and sea level rise. He points to improved resiliency projects already underway.

"In Southbridge, we are working with the City of Wilmington help alleviate the flooding. In New Castle, we are repairing dikes that protect hundreds of residents and hundreds of businesses," he says.

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DNREC Secretary Collin O'Mara explains virtually all wetlands can become open water if systems aren't made more resilient.

"25 percent of our industrial areas could be inundated, and 21 percent of the sewer pumping stations could be flooded, and we saw some of that in Lewes during Hurricane Sandy," says O'Mara.

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Markell says rising sea levels are so much more than just an environmental issue.

"This is essential to supporting a thriving economy and protecting the health of our residents," says Markell.

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Sea Level Rise Awareness week starts Saturday, September 14th and runs until September 22nd.

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