Current government policy incentivizes behavior that both harms the environment and wastes taxpayer dollars. Rooting out these policies and finding ways to dampen their negative effects offers an opportunity to conserve more while spending less. Congress did just this in 1982, when it passed the Coastal Barrier Resources Act. With the CBRA, Congress created the Coastal Barrier Resources System, an area where the federal government no longer would subsidize development or offer other support, such as federal flood insurance.

It stands to reason that efforts like CBRA should be both strengthened and expanded. However, significant barriers limit the CBRA’s effectiveness. To get serious about realizing savings through CBRA, Congress and the executive branch should take three simple steps: Update and modernize the CBRS maps, increase U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s ability to alter and update CBRS maps in keeping with the law’s intent, and expand the CBRS and OPA with new criteria to protect more acres from wasteful subsidy.