PRESS RELEASE: SmarterSafer.org today asked President Obama to use his upcoming State of the Union address to urge Congress to take meaningful reform of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill that makes a number of needed reforms that would put NFIP on sound financial footing, and the U.S. Senate Banking Committee unanimously approved a similar bill in September.
“We believe the House and Senate bills can be easily reconciled, with a final bill sent to your desk for signature this year,” said SmarterSafer.org. “To ensure this occurs, we request that you urge the Senate to quickly consider the Banking Committee bill and to come to quick agreement with the House on final reform legislation.”
The NFIP is nearly $18 billion in debt to federal taxpayers and that amount is likely to increase as a result of unprecedented flooding in 2011. The program covers 5.6 million households across the country and has over $1.25 trillion in exposure. SmarterSafer.org said the NFIP needs to be reformed to ensure that it can continue to safeguard communities, prevent further taxpayer bailouts and protect the environment.
“Without significant reform, NFIP will not be sustainable; American taxpayers will continue to be asked to bail out the program time and time again; and the federal government will continue to subsidize development in hazardous and environmentally sensitive areas,” said SmarterSafer.org
“Reform of this program would be a significant accomplishment of your Administration, and the final bill would have strong bipartisan support.”
The House and Senate NFIP reform bills would:
a.. reauthorize NFIP for five years;
b.. phase out risky, unwarranted subsidies that have undermined the financial stability of the program;
c.. allow NFIP to purchase reinsurance to help NFIP pay future claims while
protecting taxpayers from these otherwise inevitable costs;
d.. require FEMA to ensure maps are updated and accurate so that people understand and can better prepare for their risks;
e.. and streamline and strengthen mitigation programs to help decrease flood risks and strengthen flood-exposed communities, homes, and businesses.
The NFIP was temporarily extended four times in 2011, with the latest extension set to expire on May 31, 2012.
SmarterSafer.org is a national coalition made up of a diverse set of voices united to support environmentally-responsible, fiscally-sound approaches that promote public safety. The Coalition strongly opposes legislative proposals that encourage people to build homes in hurricane-prone, environmentally-sensitive areas by creating new programs that directly or indirectly subsidize their homeowner’s insurance.