Earl Blumenauer

From the office of:

Earl Blumenauer

From: The Honorable Earl Blumenauer
Sent By:

Date: 2/28/2014

Dear Colleague,
I urge you to oppose legislation that will roll back reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). For too long, homeowners in low-risk areas have subsidized those in high-risk areas. As climate change
causes sea levels to rise and increases the severity of storms, the risks of flood damage will only continue to increase. The program is already $24 billion in debt and federal taxpayers are footing the bill. We cannot afford to continue the status quo. 
I have been working on these issues for over 10 years with the goal of bringing long-term stability to the NFIP in a way that incents mitigation of risk, and discourages harmful development in high-risk floodplains and coastal
habitats that serve as natural buffers from the impacts of floods.
In 2012, I joined 401 other members of the House in supporting the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, because it took action to raise rates where necessary to more accurately reflect flood damage risk and promote mitigation.
We all understand sticker shock. I expressed reservations at the time we passed Biggert-Waters that it was too abrupt. It is entirely appropriate that we work with affected property owners to ease the transition. The transition,
however, must be made in fairness not just to the taxpayer but to other flood insurance policy holders who would be paying more and to the affected parties. We do people no favors by paying them to rebuild in the same way, in the same place, time and time
again in harm’s way.
The bill that was previously scheduled to be considered under suspension this week – HR 3370 – rolls back nearly all of the progress that has been made. In its current form, this bill will permanently reinstate
grandfathered subsidized rates based on existing Flood Insurance Rate Maps rather than imposing higher rates based on updated mapping. It also will extend grandfathered subsidized rates when properties are sold to new owners. To help pay for these changes,
the bill will impose a surcharge on every NFIP policy, even if they are already paying rates based off their risk.   
We should not negate the challenges some homeowners will face with higher rates, and I support looking at constructive ways to help ease affordability concerns. Under no circumstances does this mean we should abandon all progress
and return to a system that doesn’t work and is increasingly insolvent.
We should refocus our efforts on helping homeowners make their property and their communities more resistant to flood damage, which would in turn lower the cost of their insurance, save taxpayer dollars and increase our long-term
resiliency to the impacts of climate change.
Earl Blumenauer
Member of Congress