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Federal Flood Policy Developments

Authors: Forbes Tompkins, Senior Manager, Federal Policy

Jake Burns, Senior Associate, Field Operations

The Pew Charitable Trusts - Flood-Prepared Communities

All New National Flood Insurance Program Policies Will be Subject to FEMA’s Updated Risk Rating Methodology

On April 1st of 2022, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) implemented the second and final phase of its new rate-setting system, called Risk Rating 2.0: Equity in Action. This marked a critically needed transformation from the decades-old approach to calculating rates based on static factors to a system that is fairer and far more closely aligned with actual flood risk. Unlike the old system that would have increased rates for all National Flood Insurance Program policyholders in perpetuity, FEMA projects over 1 million policyholders stand to benefit from decreased premiums under the new rate-setting structure. To help shed light on the implications of Risk Rating 2.0, Pew partnered with the Association of State Floodplain Managers on an interactive mapping tool that visualizes FEMA data down to the zip code level. Learn more about Risk Rating 2.0 through Pew press statements, analyses, op-eds,and a collaboration with 15 national organizations on a letter to congressional leadership urging that implementation of the new system proceed without delay.

Congress Advances Bill Focused on Enhancing the Nation’s Climate Resilience

Last year, Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Representatives Scott Peters (D-CA) and María Elvira Salazar (R-FL) introduced The National Climate Adaptation and Resilience Strategy Act, or NCARS (S. 3531/H.R. 6461). The bill would establish a Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) in the White House tasked with identifying barriers to improving resilience and leading the development of a first-ever national adaptation strategy aimed at enhancing the efficiency, effectiveness, and coordination of federal efforts to better support local efforts that proactively prepare for disasters. In September, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed the legislation. Pew worked with over 45 national organizations and more than 500 local leaders and organizations that have endorsed the bill. Read Pew’s analysis on the need for NCARS here. The bill is expected to be reintroduced early this year. Thank you to all the partner support, we look forward to working together again in 2023 on this bill and if your organization is interested in supporting, please let us know.

State Flood Policy Developments

Pew Convenes the State Resilience Partnership and Government Officials in Baltimore

On October 24th, Pew convened the State Resilience Partnership – a network of organizations committed to supporting state leaders as they develop resilience strategies – and officials from six states and the District of Columbia. In partnership with the American Flood Coalition, the event involved breakout sessions focused on opportunities to improve state technical assistance with local governments and promote resilient siting and building design standards. Please feel free to let me know if you would like to receive a summary of key takeaways from the workshop.

Wisconsin Governor Signs Executive Order to Establish a Chief Resilience Officer

On April 22nd, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers signed Executive Order (EO) #161 to create an Office of Environmental Justice. The office will include a Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), the first for any state in the Midwest, who will coordinate state resilience initiatives, support regional and watershed planning, and provide communities with technical assistance. The EO was unveiled at a Pew-organized roundtable discussion with the Governor that was held in Wausau, WI. Related to the creation of the CRO position, read Pew’s policy recommendations to the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change here.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers (center) meets with elected officials and advocates in Wausau, Wisconsin, about his plan to create a chief resilience officer position to lead state resilience planning.

This nature-based project in Wausau, Wisconsin, restored the flow of a creek and reinforced its banks, helping protect the surrounding area from riverine flooding that has plagued the city. Projects like these could be more common as statewide resilience planning is implemented as called for in an Earth Day executive order issued by Governor Tony Evers.

North Carolina Addresses Flooding with Nature-based Solutions

On July 25th, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) signed Executive Order 266, which incorporates Pew recommendations, directing state agencies to consider climate-risk, future flood conditions, and nature-based infrastructure into state facility siting and design. North Carolina’s updated siting and design criteria will take into account recent and projected changes in the intensity and frequency of storms, sea-level rise, and saltwater intrusion. Find collated North Carolina resources here.

Pew Co-hosts Flood Symposium in West Virginia

On May 18th and 19th, the West Virginia State Resiliency Office, SBP, and Pew convened a Flood Symposium with more than 70 officials from state and local government to provide input on West Virginia’s flood protection plan. Discussions included strategies to reduce unsustainable development in high-risk areas, prioritize nature-based solutions, and restore and enhance the natural function of the floodplain. On September 11th, FPC’s Mathew Sanders presented to the West Virginia Joint Legislative Committee on Flooding, offering recommendations from the Flood Symposium on how to plan for and invest in resilience. Read more about Pew’s flood resilience efforts in West Virginia here.


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