R Street responds to executive order on federal flood standards
Established in January 2015, the standards require that federal structures and projects funded with federal subsidies comply with building and elevation standards to mitigate the risk of flooding, in accordance with the best available science.
“Taxpayers have been made to shell out hundreds of billions of dollars in disaster-related spending over the past decade, including more than $136 billion for just the two years from 2011 to 2013,” R Street Senior Fellow R.J. Lehmann said. “By contrast, evidence shows that every $1 spent on disaster mitigation can save $4 in post-disaster recovery and rebuilding costs.”
The executive order, which the president reportedly will sign this afternoon, comes as Congress prepares to consider statutory reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program, which remains nearly $25 billion in debt to U.S. taxpayers. As part of it proposed FY 2018 budget, the administration also has called for $667 million in cuts from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s state and local grant funding, including the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program, in addition to eliminating the NFIP’s $190 million discretionary appropriation for its Flood Hazard Mapping Program.
The FHMP is designed to update decades-old maps FEMA uses to set NFIP rates. Lehmann noted the out-of-date maps are a significant contributing factor in why the NFIP fails to collect appropriate risk-based rates.
“While we share the president’s concern that the current trajectory of federal spending is unsustainable, cutting investments in effective disaster mitigation only serves to exacerbate that problem over the long term,” Lehmann said. “As the White House prepares to roll out a massive infrastructure package, we would hope it will not similarly be so shortsighted and ill-considered.”