Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More on NFIP Reform

The departure of Carol Browner who led EPA for eight years under President William Jefferson Clinton and has headed the WH Oceans and Energy slot since the start of the Obama Administration should not really be news since we know that the Republican House of Representatives takeover kills any climate legislation for the next decade. That even while announcements are made almost daily that the Greenland glaciers, most over land not water, shrunk more in 2010 than any year recently. Poor Polar Bears.
Well where can the President make an environmental statement. It does increasingly look like the NFIP will be statutorily modified this session of Congress. Essentially a land use not an insurance program clearly its insurance aspects have attracted numerous followers, and it is life and death in the NOLA and HOUSTON and perhaps some Florida areas. Reform is being driven by claims payments during Hurricane Katrina where many in NOLA although not mapped as flood prone were smart enough to buy very cheap insurance coverage.
So my leading reform would be that NO FEDERAL FLOOD INSURANCE IS PROVIDED OUTSIDE THE DESIGNATED 1% ANNUAL OCCURRENCE FLOOD DESIGNATED AREAS TYPICALLY "A" AND "V" zones. This would give an additional incentive to not contest the new maps being issued by the NFIP that because the technical data is overlayed on better contour interval data often are expanding the designed "100-year" flood plain by up to 30% causing political headaches for the program, which frequently is delaying map adoption and enforcement for political reasons.

This does not help in the reduction of "FREE" federal disaster outlays which was also a prime purpose of the NFIP as the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 (P.L 93-288) and the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 (largely effective December 1994)adjusted to the events of Tropical Storm Agnes where once again the NFIP in its early stages had not resulted in widely spread purchase of insurance. In fact between program inception in June 1969 when the first policy was issued until December 1977 the premium income roughly equaled claims payments with some adjustment for expenses.

The NFIP is too big and too important an effort to be left to the whims of DHS/FEMA and a WH coordinator who really understands the impacts on the environment, water policy and resources, the building industry and future community development should be leading a multiagency approach to reform.
This person could start by leading the effort to update based on technical and scientific knowledge developed since their first issuance, Executive Order 11990 on WETLANDS and Executive Order 11988 on FLOOD PLAIN MANAGEMENT. Both could be made much more effective than presently.

President Obama still does not seem to understand that the American people will vote in 2012 on results not promises. And Harry Truman as President had it right in stating "THE BUCK STOPS HERE!"