R Street paper looks at barring federal subsidies to development

WASHINGTON (Sept. 6, 2013) – Expanding and strengthening the Coastal Barrier Resources System would offer a unique opportunity to protect both taxpayers and the environment in a way that could be bipartisan, R Street Institute Policy Analyst Lori Sanders argues in a new R Street policy brief.

Created by 1982’s Coastal Barrier Resources Act in response to concerns about the contribution of federal subsidies to unsafe development in coastal barrier regions, the CBRS is a 1.3 million acre zone where the federal government is barred from subsidizing development or offering other support, such as federal flood insurance. Congress later expanded the law to bar federal flood insurance from an additional 1.8 million acres of “otherwise protected areas.”

But Sanders argues there are simple steps Congress could take today to realize even more savings through the CBRA structure. In particular, she advocates updating and modernizing CBRS maps, increasing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s ability to alter the maps through administrative rulemaking and and expanding both the CBRS and OPA with new criteria to protect more acres from wasteful subsidies.

“Environmental policy and spending cuts don’t have to be anathema to each other in today’s policy debates. The first step toward correcting behavior that negatively impacts the environment can and should be ending any government programs that cause such behavior, and the CBRA has been an effective tool to do just that.”

The full paper can be found at: http://www.rstreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/RSTREETshort4.pdf

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