In-Depth: Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL) introduced this bill to help homeowners access disaster relief funds and preserve thousands of acres of coastline by updating existing coastal barrier maps under the CBRA. After a hearing on this bill before the House Natural Resources Committee, Rep. Dunn noted this bill’s importance to 198 homes in the coastal barrier system:
“What (the bill) does is it removes 198 homes from the coastal barrier system, which means they can receive a number of federal benefits, including access to federal flood insurance, disaster recovery and federally backed mortgages. If these houses were uninsurable they'd have no resale value at all, so these 198 homeowners would have been literally left with homes that were worth nothing."
Cosponsor Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) calls this bill a common-sense fix that benefits both homeowners and the natural environment:
“The Strengthening Coastal Communities Act of 2018 is a common-sense fix that grants homeowners... the ability to access the same federal resources and assistance as others in the event of a natural disaster. I’m proud to introduce a bill that adds hundreds of acres of beach and wetlands to the protected coastal map area… and preserves our state’s natural beauty, while ensuring neighborhoods have access to critical federal benefits.”
Dr. Karen Hyun, The Audubon Society’s vice president of coastal policy, calls this bill an essential conservation initiative for birds and people:
“Conserving coastal environments is not only vital to protecting birds but is also key to preserving local communities and economies along America’s coastline. This bipartisan bill is a good first step, and Audubon thanks Representatives Dunn, Blunt Rochester and Rooney for their leadership on such an important conservation initiative for birds and people. We look forward to working with all members of the House in moving this legislation forward.”
The Audubon Society adds that the new CBRA maps will save taxpayer dollars, improve public safety, make coastal communities more resilient in the face of a changing climate, and protect habitats that support fish, wildlife and coastal economies.
This bill passed the House Committee on Natural Resources on a voice vote with an amendment. It has the support of three cosponsors, including one Democrat and two Republicans, as well as the Audubon Society and USFWS, both of whom spoke at the House Natural Resources Committee hearing on the bill.
Of Note: President Ronald Reagan signed the Coastal Barrier Resources Act into law in 1982. The CBRA prohibits most federal spending on certain undeveloped, high-risk coastal areas, including barrier islands, beaches, and wetland along the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Great Lakes.
In the most recent reauthorization of the CBRA, the Coastal Barrier Resources Reauthorization Act of 2005, Congress directed USFWS to finalize and submit a report on the digitization of CBRA maps. This report, which was submitted to Congress in November 2016, included final recommended boundaries for CBRS units. The recommendations in the report impact maps in Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana. Since they’re significant changes to CBRA maps, the report’s recommendations must be codified by Congress in order for them to go into effect.
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / GabrielPevide)