Sea  Level  Rise  Threats  to  Energy  Infrastructure   A  Surging  Seas  Brief  Report  by  Climate  Central  •  April  19,  2012     Ben  Strauss   Remik  Ziemlinski        

Summary   Sea  level  rise  from  global  warming  is  well  on  the  way  to  doubling  the  risk  of  coastal  floods  4   feet  or  more  over  high  tide  by  2030  at  locations  nationwide.  In  the  lower  48  states,  nearly  300   energy  facilities  stand  on  land  below  that  level,  including  natural  gas  infrastructure,  electric   power  plants,  and  oil  and  gas  refineries.  Many  more  facilities  are  at  risk  at  higher  levels,  where   flooding  will  become  progressively  more  likely  with  time  as  the  sea  continues  to  rise.  These   results  come  from  a  Climate  Central  combined  analysis  of  datasets  from  NOAA,  USGS  and   FEMA.  

Rising  seas   Global  warming  has  raised  sea  level  about  8  inches  since  1880,  and  the  rate  of  rise  is   accelerating.  Scientists  expect  20  to  80  more  inches  this  century,  a  lot  depending  upon  how   much  more  heat-­‐trapping  pollution  humanity  puts  into  the  atmosphere.  In  the  near  term,  rising   seas  will  translate  into  more  and  more  coastal  floods  reaching  higher  and  higher,  as  sea  level   rise  aggravates  storm  surges.  These  increases  threaten  widespread  damage  to  the  nation’s   energy  infrastructure.  This  brief  analyzes  the  potential  risk.  

Multiplying  risk   Based  on  peer-­‐reviewed  research,  Climate  Central’s  March  2012  report,  Surging  Seas   (surgingseas.org/NationalReport),  made  local  sea  level  rise  and  coastal  flood  risk  projections  at   55  water-­‐level  stations  distributed  around  the  lower  48  states.  At  the  majority  of  these  sites   and  across  the  U.S.,  according  to  the  projections,  climate  change  more  than  doubles  the  odds   of  near-­‐term  extreme  flooding,  compared  to  a  hypothetical  world  without  warming.  Across   sites,  median  odds  for  floods  reaching  at  least  4  feet  above  local  high-­‐tide  lines  are  55  percent   by  2030.  Median  odds  for  floods  exceeding  5  feet  are  41  percent  by  2050.  Odds  vary  regionally,   but  generally  rank  highest  along  the  Gulf  of  Mexico.  However,  warming  multiplies  odds  the   most  along  the  Pacific  and  then  Atlantic  coasts.  Numbers  are  detailed  in  Table  2  of  Surging   Seas.    

 

 

 

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Energy  infrastructure  exposed   A  great  number  of  coastal  energy  facilities  lay  below  these  elevations,  exposed  to  increasing   risk  of  floods.  This  analysis  identifies  287  facilities  less  than  4  feet  above  the  high-­‐tide  line,   spread  throughout  the  22  coastal  states  of  the  lower  48.  More  than  half  of  these  are  in   Louisiana,  mainly  natural  gas  facilities.  Florida,  California,  New  York,  Texas,  and  New  Jersey   each  have  10-­‐to-­‐30  exposed  sites,  mainly  for  electricity  in  the  first  three  states,  and  for  oil  and   gas  in  the  last  two.  All  told,  this  brief  catalogs  130  natural  gas,  96  electric,  and  56  oil  and  gas   facilities  built  on  land  below  the  4-­‐foot  line.  Below  the  5-­‐foot  line,  the  total  jumps  to  328   facilities  with  similar  geographic  and  type  distribution.     Figure  1  shows  a  map  of  coastal  facility  locations  below  4  feet.  Table  1  presents  total  energy   facilities  below  1-­‐to-­‐10  feet,  state  by  state.    Tables  2-­‐4  break  out  natural  gas,  electric,  and  oil   and  gas  facilities.    

Analysis  methods   To  arrive  at  the  values  presented  here,  we  overlay  point  coordinate  data  for  energy  facilities   from  the  Federal  Emergency  Management  Agency  HAZUS  Database  /  MH  (version  1.1),  against   previously  developed  flood-­‐risk  zones.  Surging  Seas  documents  the  methodology  for   developing  these  zones,  which  are  based  on  the  elevation  of  land  relative  to  local  high-­‐tide  lines   (as  opposed  to  standard  elevation).  The  Surging  Seas  analysis  employed  national  datasets  from   NOAA  and  USGS.       The  HAZUS  database  breaks  down  energy  facilities  into  several  classes.  We  lump  “Oil  /  Gas   Refinery”  and  “Oil  /  Gas  Storage  Facility  /  Tank  Farm”  together  with  “Oil  /  Gas  Facility”;  the   database  includes  only  two  sites  in  the  first  two  categories  less  than  10  feet,  vs.  118  for  the  last   category.  Similarly,  we  lump  “Substation”  (1  below  10  feet)  together  with  “Electric  Facility”   (201).    

Limitations   The  results  presented  here  should  be  presented  with  certain  limits  in  mind.  For  example,  the   FEMA  source  data  used  includes  only  point  coordinate  values  for  each  energy  facility.  Actual   facilities  cover  larger  areas  that  may  include  higher  or  lower  elevations.  This  analysis  uses  the   best  publicly  available  elevation  data  covering  the  entire  coast  of  the  lower  48  states.  However,   like  most  datasets,  the  elevation  dataset  includes  errors,  so  any  point  may  be  higher  or  lower   than  the  value  provided.  These  factors  mean  that  results  for  any  individual  facility  should  be  

 

 

 

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viewed  cautiously.  We  therefore  do  not  present  results  at  the  individual  level.  However,   averaged  over  many  facilities,  potential  errors  should  cancel  out,  making  the  aggregate  findings   presented  more  reliable.     This  analysis  simply  tallies  facilities  under  different  elevations.  It  does  not  account  for  levees,   seawalls,  or  other  features  that  may  offer  protection.  However,  areas  depressed  below  a  sea-­‐ flood  level,  even  if  isolated  from  the  ocean,  may  be  more  subject  to  flooding  from  rainwater   during  storms,  as  drainage  would  be  impeded.     The  Surging  Seas  report  presents  more  thorough  and  detailed  limits  that  all  apply  for  this  brief   as  well.      

Figure  1.  Low-­‐lying  coastal  energy  facilities  map.  

   

 

 

 

 

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  Table  1.  Total  energy  facilities  on  land  less  than  1-­‐to-­‐10  feet  below  local  high  tide.  Includes  oil   and  gas,  natural  gas,  and  electric  facilities,  as  well  as  other  facilities.     State   Alabama   California   Connecticut   Delaware   Florida   Georgia   Louisiana   Maine   Maryland   Massachusetts   Mississippi   New  Hampshire   New  Jersey   New  York   North  Carolina   Oregon   Pennsylvania   Rhode  Island   South  Carolina   Texas   Virginia   Washington   Total  

1  ft   0   8   5   0   6   2   101   1   1   2   0   2   10   7   3   1   1   0   1   4   1   6   162  

2  ft   0   12   5   0   12   2   114   1   2   2   0   2   12   8   3   1   1   0   1   5   1   6   190  

3  ft   1   19   5   0   19   5   131   1   3   2   0   2   15   11   5   1   1   0   1   5   2   6   235  

4  ft   3   22   5   0   26   5   148   1   4   3   1   2   17   13   5   1   1   0   1   17   3   9   287  

5  ft   3   24   5   0   30   5   163   1   5   6   1   2   21   14   5   2   1   0   2   23   5   10   328  

6  ft   3   27   5   3   33   7   170   1   5   9   2   2   22   15   5   2   2   1   2   25   5   12   358  

7  ft   5   29   6   4   34   8   182   1   6   11   2   2   34   16   5   2   4   2   3   27   6   14   403  

8  ft   6   34   7   4   44   9   184   1   7   11   2   2   40   20   5   2   6   2   3   29   8   14   440  

9  ft   8   40   7   4   47   10   203   1   10   12   2   3   46   23   5   2   7   2   3   33   13   14   495  

10  ft   8   42   7   5   49   10   206   1   11   12   2   3   50   27   5   2   7   2   3   35   14   18   519  

   

 

 

 

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  Table  2.  Natural  gas  facilities  on  land  less  than  1-­‐to-­‐10  feet  below  local  high  tide.     State   Alabama   California   Connecticut   Delaware   Florida   Georgia   Louisiana   Maine   Maryland   Massachusetts   Mississippi   New  Hampshire   New  Jersey   New  York   North  Carolina   Oregon   Pennsylvania   Rhode  Island   South  Carolina   Texas   Virginia   Washington   Total  

1  ft   0   0   0   0   1   0   84   0   0   0   1   0   0   0   0   0   0   1   0   1   1   6   88  

2  ft   0   0   0   0   1   0   96   0   0   0   1   0   0   0   0   0   0   1   0   1   1   6   100  

3  ft   1   1   0   0   1   1   110   0   0   0   1   0   0   0   0   0   0   1   0   1   2   6   117  

4  ft   1   1   0   0   1   1   123   0   0   0   1   0   0   0   0   0   0   1   0   1   3   9   130  

5  ft   1   1   0   0   2   1   135   0   0   0   1   0   0   0   0   0   0   2   1   1   5   10   145  

6  ft   1   1   0   0   2   1   140   0   0   1   1   0   0   0   0   0   0   2   1   2   5   12   152  

7  ft   1   1   0   0   3   1   150   0   0   1   1   0   0   0   0   0   0   2   1   2   6   14   163  

8  ft   2   1   0   0   3   1   151   0   0   1   1   0   0   0   0   0   0   2   2   2   8   14   166  

9  ft   2   1   0   0   3   1   165   0   0   1   1   1   0   0   0   0   0   3   2   2   13   14   182  

10  ft   2   1   0   0   3   1   166   0   0   1   1   2   0   0   0   0   0   3   2   3   14   18   185  

   

 

 

 

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  Table  3.  Electric  facilities  on  land  less  than  1-­‐to-­‐10  feet  below  local  high  tide.     State   Alabama   California   Connecticut   Delaware   Florida   Georgia   Louisiana   Maine   Maryland   Massachusetts   Mississippi   New  Hampshire   New  Jersey   New  York   North  Carolina   Oregon   Pennsylvania   Rhode  Island   South  Carolina   Texas   Virginia   Washington   Total  

1  ft   0   5   5   0   3   1   6   1   1   2   0   1   3   6   3   1   0   0   0   0   1   2   42  

2  ft   0   9   5   0   8   1   6   1   2   2   0   1   4   7   3   1   0   0   0   0   1   2   54  

3  ft   0   12   5   0   15   3   8   1   2   2   0   1   6   10   5   1   0   0   1   0   2   2   76  

4  ft   0   15   5   0   22   3   8   1   3   3   0   1   7   12   5   1   0   0   1   3   3   3   96  

5  ft   0   17   5   0   25   3   9   1   4   6   0   1   10   13   5   2   0   0   1   3   4   4   113  

6  ft   0   19   5   3   27   4   10   1   4   9   0   1   10   14   5   2   1   1   1   3   4   5   129  

7  ft   2   20   5   4   27   5   10   1   4   10   0   1   17   15   5   2   2   2   2   3   4   6   147  

8  ft   2   23   6   4   34   5   10   1   5   10   0   1   19   17   5   2   4   2   2   3   4   6   165  

9  ft   3   27   6   4   36   6   14   1   8   11   0   1   23   18   5   2   5   2   2   3   8   6   191  

10  ft   3   28   6   5   38   6   14   1   9   11   0   1   24   21   5   2   5   2   2   4   8   7   202  

     

 

 

 

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  Table  4.  Oil  and  gas  facilities  on  land  less  than  1-­‐to-­‐10  feet  below  local  high  tide.     State   Alabama   California   Connecticut   Delaware   Florida   Georgia   Louisiana   Maine   Maryland   Massachusetts   Mississippi   New  Hampshire   New  Jersey   New  York   North  Carolina   Oregon   Pennsylvania   Rhode  Island   South  Carolina   Texas   Virginia   Washington   Total  

1  ft   0   2   0   0   0   1   11   0   0   0   0   0   6   1   0   0   1   0   0   3   0   3   28  

2  ft   0   2   0   0   0   1   12   0   0   0   0   0   7   1   0   0   1   0   0   4   0   3   31  

3  ft   0   5   0   0   0   1   13   0   1   0   0   0   8   1   0   0   1   0   0   4   0   3   37  

4  ft   2   5   0   0   0   1   17   0   1   0   1   0   9   1   0   0   1   0   0   13   0   5   56  

5  ft   2   5   0   0   0   1   19   0   1   0   1   0   10   1   0   0   1   0   1   18   0   5   65  

6  ft   2   6   0   0   0   2   20   0   1   0   1   0   11   1   0   0   1   0   1   20   0   5   71  

7  ft   2   7   1   0   0   2   22   0   2   1   1   0   15   1   0   0   2   0   1   22   1   6   86  

8  ft   2   9   1   0   3   3   23   0   2   1   1   0   18   2   0   0   2   0   1   24   2   6   100  

9  ft   3   11   1   0   4   3   23   0   2   1   1   1   20   3   0   0   2   0   1   27   3   6   112  

10  ft   3   12   1   0   4   3   25   0   2   1   1   1   23   3   0   0   2   0   1   28   3   7   120  

   

 

 

 

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Sea Level Rise Threats to Energy Infrastructure

Apr 19, 2012 - Florida, California, New York, Texas, and New Jersey ... The HAZUS database breaks down energy facilities into several classes. ..... You may republish this brief report and/or its tables and graphics online, in their original ...

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