Wednesday, May 16, 2012

FEMA to Evaluate Potential Modifications to National Flood Insurance Program - Solicits Public Comment

The Federal Emergency Management Agency ("FEMA") announced in the May 16 Federal Register that it intends to prepare what it calls a "Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement" (or "PEIS") on modifications it is proposing to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Specifically, FEMA is proposing to modify the NFIP, and those modifications could then impact, FEMA indicates, "environmental and historic preservation considerations including but not limited to climate change, and the impacts of the program on endangered and threatened species and critical habitat." The changes being considered by FEMA would result in modification of the NFIP in the following specific areas:
  1. Elevation standards for new construction would be increased
  2. Floodplain management standards for critical facilities would be changed
  3. Restrictions on floodway development would be strengthened
  4. Future conditions and residual risk in floodplain management would be integrated
  5. Fill in floodplains would be discouraged, and
  6. The impacts of floodplain development on the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains to include endangered and threatened species would be taken into account.
Comments on the FEMA proposal may be submitted either through the Federal eRulemaking Portal:, or by first class mail to: Regulatory Affairs Legal Division, Office of Chief Counsel, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Room 835, 500 C Street, SW., Washington, DC 20472-3100. Comments must be submitted by July 16, 2012, and should be identified by Docket ID FEMA-2012-0012.

The NFIP was created by the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968. Under the Federal program, property owners in NFIP participating communities may purchase insurance as a protection against flood losses in exchange for State and community adoption and implementation of land use criteria that reduce future flood damages. In addition to providing flood insurance and reducing flood damages through floodplain management regulations, the NFIP identifies and maps the Nation’s regulated floodplains. FEMA contends that mapping flood hazards creates a "broad-based awareness of flood hazards and provides data needed for floodplain management programs and to actuarially rate new construction for flood insurance."  Additional information about FEMA's NFIP Reform effort can be found at this FEMA web site.

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