The Ike Dike could protect Houston from the next big hurricane

The $31B coastal barrier could be the largest civil-engineering project in U.S. history. But will it be enough?

On The Carbon Copy podcast this week:

As the cost of living with increasingly intense hurricanes skyrockets, coastal cities across the U.S. are starting to ask the trillion-dollar question: What can we build to protect ourselves, and how much are we willing to pay?

This week, producer Alexandria Herr takes us to Texas, where the largest civil-engineering project in U.S. history may soon put those questions to the test. The Houston area is a sitting duck for a future hurricane that scientists say could cause an environmental and economic catastrophe. But the $31 billion coastal barrier project known as the Ike Dike,” approved this summer by the U.S. House and Senate, would help protect the region. Will it be enough to prevent a major calamity? 


  • Kiah Collier is a Peabody-Award-winning investigative reporter for ProPublica and The Texas Tribune. (Check out an interactive deep dive into the potential impacts of a major hurricane on the Houston area she worked on.)

  • Bill Merrell is a professor emeritus of marine sciences at Texas A&M University at Galveston. 

  • Jim Blackburn is a professor in the practice of environmental law at Rice University and co-director of the Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters Center.

The Carbon Copy is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.