Warner, Kaine urge Trump to save Tang­ier Is­land from be­ing washed away

Pres­i­dent had vowed that com­mu­nity in the bay would re­main in­tact

The Washington Post Sunday - - LOCAL OPINIONS - VIR­GINIA BY JENNA PORTNOY jenna.portnoy@wash­post.com

Five months af­ter Pres­i­dent Trump lent his sup­port to the mayor of a tiny is­land with a van­ish­ing shore­line, Vir­ginia’s se­na­tors are urg­ing the pres­i­dent to pro­tect Tang­ier Is­land from dis­ap­pear­ing into the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay.

Demo­cratic Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, both for­mer gover­nors who have vis­ited Tang­ier, sent a let­ter to the White House ask­ing Trump to ful­fill his prom­ise to the is­land’s mayor, James “Ooker” Eskridge.

In the sum­mer, Trump called Eskridge, whose con­stituents are over­whelm­ingly Repub­li­can, and said his is­land of mostly wa­ter­men and their fam­i­lies would re­main in­tact.

The pledge came de­spite re­ports that show that Tang­ier could be un­in­hab­it­able in 25 to 50 years.

Many is­land res­i­dents dis­agree that man-made cli­mate change is to blame and say nat­u­ral ero­sion wash­ing away land has fi­nally come to their doorsteps. In their let­ter, Warner and Kaine avoided the rea­son Tang­ier is dis­ap­pear­ing at an av­er­age rate of eight acres a year.

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

They sug­gested that Trump ex­pe­dite an Army Corps of En­gi­neers study of Tang­ier’s in­fra­struc­ture needs, con­sider a pro­posal to use soil from dredg­ing projects to build up the is­land, and di­rect the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to man­age part of the is­land.

The 1.2-square-mile is­land off the East­ern Shore, with its 460 res­i­dents, may not score well on tra­di­tional fed­eral cost-ben­e­fit analy­ses, but the se­na­tors asked Trump to con­sider Tang­ier’s other as­sets.

“Its his­tory and cul­ture pre­date the United States, and its lin­guis­tic char­ac­ter­is­tics are un­like any in the world,” they wrote. “Let­ting this is­land wither away due to bu­reau­cratic in­er­tia — or worse, an ac­tive de­ci­sion to write it off — would not only re­sult in the loss of peo­ple’s homes and way of life, but would be a cul­tural and his­tor­i­cal loss to Amer­ica.”

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