New legal brief outlines how America’s historic places are at risk from climate change

Key organizations add support in Clean Power Plan lawsuit
For Immediate Release


RALEIGH -- Environment America, an affiliate of Environment North Carolina, has joined with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to file an amicus brief supporting a challenge to the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, a new set of regulations created by the Trump administration. Unless defeated in court, this plan will sharply increase U.S. greenhouse gas emissions driving global warming, which, among other impacts, will spur a tremendous rise in sea levels.

“There are a number of our nation’s most historic places along North Carolina’s coast, including Roanoke Island, Bath, Princeville, Fort Fisher, and Tryon Palace. Those places are at tremendous risk from the rising seas and more ferocious storms turbocharged by global warming,” said Drew Ball, State Director of Environment North Carolina “We should not risk losing these windows into our past.”

The amicus brief highlights risks created by climate change to four of our country’s most historic cities and national landmarks: Annapolis, Maryland; Charleston, South Carolina; Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in New York City, New York;  and St. Augustine, Florida. These endangered places are not alone. Almost half of all Congressional districts are located in threatened coastal areas, which could also see similar historic losses. Beyond sea level rise, extreme weather from climate change can lead to increased flooding and fires as well. These natural disasters may also cause irreparable destruction to our national heritage in inland locations.

“Historic landmarks and communities throughout the United States are threatened by climate change, and these irreplaceable sites provide us with an essential understanding of who we are,” said Thompson M. Mayes, chief legal officer and general counsel of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, “This brief aims to express just how dangerous EPA’s weakened regulations on global warming could be to our shared sense of history.”

The brief argues that the Environmental Protection Agency drafted the Affordable Clean Energy Rule without adequately considering its impact to historic resources and communities. Already, seas are expected to rise as much as four feet by the end of this century, according to the National Climate Assessment. In addition, climate change’s impact on the intensity of floods, storms and fires will further exacerbate this problem.

“We’re increasingly having to ask ourselves if we can continue ignoring the climate crisis and risk our historic coastal communities, or will we give our most beloved landmarks, cities and towns a fighting chance to stay above water?” Ball said.