Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program

Sea Level Rise and Property Rights:
A Gulf of Mexico Regional Sea Grant Legal Project

In February 2010, the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program and project partners Florida Sea Grant, Louisiana Sea Grant Law and Policy Program, Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, and Texas Wesleyan School of Law launched a new legal research and outreach program on the impact of the “regulatory takings” doctrine on the ability of local governments to implement sea level rise adaptation policies. This work is funded by Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant Programs, the EPA Gulf of Mexico Office, the Northern Gulf Institute, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Although our products and services are designed to meet the needs of local planners and land use decision-makings, we believe this information will be useful to anyone living and working along the Gulf Coast. This site will serve as the clearinghouse for all legal analysis and outreach materials produced by the team. Information will also be shared on partner websites, such as the StormSmart Coast Network.

Project Team

Principal Investigator
Stephanie Showalter Otts
Director, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program

Thomas Ruppert
Coastal Planning Specialist, Florida Sea Grant College Program

Niki Pace
Research Counsel, MASGLP

Jim Wilkins
Director, Louisiana Sea Grant Law and Policy Program

Richard McLaughlin
Endowed Chair, Harte Research Institute of Gulf of Mexico Studies,
Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi

Timothy Mulvaney
Visiting Associate Professor of Law, Texas Wesleyan University School of Law

Project Accomplishments


The Project Team’s research findings were shared at Florida State University College of Law’s Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law Florida State Symposium on Sea Level Rise and Property Rights on April 23, 2010. The proceedings from the Symposium were published in the Spring 2011 issue of the Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law, including the following five articles written by Project Team members:

  • Thomas Ruppert, Reasonable Investment-Backed Expectactions: Should Notice of Rising Seas Lead to Falling Expectations for Coastal Property Purchases?, 26 J. of Land Use And Env. Law 239 (2011).

  • Timothy M. Mulvaney, Proposed Exactions, 26 J. of Land Use And Env. Law 278 (2011).

  • Niki L. Pace, Wetlands or Seawalls? Adapting Shoreline Regulation to Address Sea Level Rise and Wetland Preservation in the Gulf of Mexico, 26 J. of Land Use And Env. Law 327 (2011).

  • Richard J. McLaughlin, Rolling Easements as a Response to Sea Level Rise in Coastal Texas: Current Status of the Law after Severance v. Patterson, 26 J. of Land Use And Env. Law 365 (2011).

  • James Wilkins, Is Sea Level Rise "Foreseeable"? Does it Matter?, 26 J. of Land Use And Env. Law 437 (2011).

Copies of the symposium articles are available for download at: http://www.law.fsu.edu/co-curriculars/jluel/previous-issues/docs/default-source/journals/jluel/previous-issues/volume-26-number-2


StormSmart Legal: http://legal.stormsmart.org

Florida Sea Grant, Coastal Planning: http://www.flseagrant.org/coastalplanning


Legal Implications of Innovative Planning Strategies for Sea Level Rise in the Gulf of Mexico, International Conference on Sea Level Rise in the Gulf of Mexico, Corpus Christi, TX (March 3, 2010). Presentations of Project Team members Timothy Mulvaney, Thomas Ruppert, and Jim Wilkins available at: http://gulfsealevel.org/oral%20Presentations.htm.

Recent Developments in Takings Law: A Workshop for Planners, Gulfport, MS (Aug. 19, 2011): http://masglp.olemiss.edu/takingsworkshop.html.

Living shorelines: Aligning natural and regulatory barriers to innovative approaches to sea level rise, Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2011, Daytona Beach, FL (Nov. 6, 2011).

Adaptive Planning for Sea Level Rise: Legal Issues for Local Government:

Takings 101: A Professional Development Module for Sea Grant Extension Agents, Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant Regional Extension Meeting (July 18, 2012)


  • S. Otts and M. Daigle, Sea Level Rise and Property Rights: A Gulf of Mexico Regional Sea Grant Legal Project, Bays and Bayous Symposium, Mobile, AL (Dec. 2, 2010).

  • N. L. Pace, Impacts of Regulatory Takings Claims on Local Land Use Decisions, Mississippi Municipal Attorneys’ Association CLE, Jackson, MS (Jan. 27, 2011).

  • S. Otts, Regulatory Takings and Sea Level Rise: A Gulf of Mexico Regional Sea Grant Legal Project, Gulf of Mexico Climate COP Annual Meeting, Biloxi, MS (June 6, 2011).

  • S. Otts, Managing the Coastline in a Changing Climate: Local Land Use Planning and the “Takings Clause,” Gulf of Mexico Climate COP Webinar Series (Sept. 23, 2011).

  • J. Wilkins and Melissa Daigle, Truth or Consequences: Do States of Denial about Sea Level Rise = Government Liability? presented at Marine Extension Program Quarterly Meeting, Baton Rouge, LA (Dec. 13, 2011); Mandeville, LA local government meeting (Mar. 2, 2011); and Department of Natural Resources Local Coastal Programs Meeting, Baton Rouge, LA (Mar. 29, 2011).

  • N. L. Pace, Regulatory Challenges to Shoreline Management in a Changing Climate, Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, University of Oregon School of Law, Eugene, OR (Mar. 3, 2012).

  • R. McLaughlin, Rolling Easements and Takings in Coastal Texas, Environmental Law Distinguished Lecture 25th Anniversary Symposium: The Future of Ocean and Coastal Law and Policy, Florida State University Law School, Tallahassee, FL (Mar. 14, 2012).

  • R. McLaughlin, Legal and Policy Issues Associated with Sea Level Rise in Texas, Sixth Educational Partnership Program Education & Science Forum, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL (Mar. 26, 2012).

  • R. McLaughlin, Using the Rolling Easement Doctrine as a Method of Adapting to Sea Level Rise along the Texas Coast, CREST-RESSACA Environmental and Sustainable Energy Conference, Houston, TX (Apr. 25, 2012).

  • R. McLaughlin, Texas Open Beaches Act: Background and Future Implications, Texas Interfaith Power and Light Environmental Update, Statewide Conference Call (May 30, 2012).

  • T. Ruppert, Where Did My Coastal Property Go: Providing Information to Potential Purchasers of Coastal Property, TCS23: The Coastal Society’s 23rd International Conference, Miami, FL (June 4, 2012).

  • T. Ruppert, Legal Issues and Sea-Level Rise Adaptation, 2012 APA Florida Annual Conference, Naples, FL (Sept. 13, 2012).


For additional information about this project or any of the listed outreach activities, please contact Stephanie Showalter Otts, Director of the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program, at sshowalt@olemiss.edu.

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Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program