U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MISSES MARK IN REDUCING NATION’S FLOOD RISK
ARLINGTON, VA. | November 15, 2017
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the “21st Century Flood Reform Act” (H.R. 2874) yesterday. The bill would renew the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which expires Dec. 8.
“We appreciate Congress’ effort to enact much-needed reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program. There are several provisions in the bill that make necessary improvements, such as requiring enhanced risk-reduction plans in communities with 50 or more properties that repeatedly flood. We also support disclosing flood damage to prospective home buyers so they can be more informed about a property’s flood risk prior to purchasing,” said Sarah Murdock, director of climate resilience and water policy at The Nature Conservancy.
“Unfortunately, this bill falls short of significant improvements needed to bolster risk reduction and flood-risk mapping efforts under the National Flood Insurance Program,” Murdock said. “The program has failed to achieve its intended goal of lessening our nation’s flood risk. Congress needs to place more emphasis on reforms that mitigate risk and promote using the best-available science and technology in mapping processes. It is particularly important that reforms enable the restoration of functioning floodplains and disincentivize development in areas of high flood risk.”
The Nature Conservancy supports NFIP reform provisions that increase support for effective risk-reduction programs, such as prioritizing mitigation actions in the highest flood-risk areas, allowing the study of voluntary buyout programs, authorizing the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program at $200 million or more per year and providing technical assistance to communities to bolster participation in the Community Rating System Program.
The Nature Conservancy also encourages making necessary flood-mapping advancements, which can be accomplished by expediting the inclusion of information on future risks, such as sea level rise, heavy precipitation events and erosion rates; incorporating land use, locations of critical facilities, demographic information and socioeconomic data; incenting elevation certificates for all properties located in the 100-year floodplain; expanding mapping coverage to include the 500-year floodplain; and requiring full disclosure of past flood and claims data, as well as repetitive loss status.
“It is critical that modern science, data and mapping techniques are used to create accurate flood maps that can inform the public and help communities develop plans to reduce their flood risk,” Murdock said. “We urge Congress to include more of The Nature Conservancy’s recommended reform provisions in any final reauthorization bill. We look forward to working with the Senate during the next month to advance these and other meaningful improvements to the NFIP.”
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.