Why Advocacy Matters

Today’s guest-post is from Laura Morgan-Kessler of Van Scoyoc Associates.

It is almost impossible to turn on the news or open your twitter feed today without seeing words like gridlock, partisan, or contentious used to describe the current climate in Washington, D.C. The constant negativity surrounding the events and activities in our nation’s capital has led many to feel disheartened with the political process. However, as has often been the case in Washington, D.C., the times of greatest uncertainly provide the greatest opportunity. A strong federal advocacy effort is exactly what is needed to take advantage of these opportunities.

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Trump Nominates RD James for Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works

This morning President Trump announced his intent to nominate candidates to a number of administration posts. Among them is RD James to be the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. Here is the blurb on James:

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The Money Calendar – How The Federal Budget Calendar Is Circular, Not Linear

On a recent visit to Washington, D.C. to work on client issues, I attended any number of meetings where we discussed Federal appropriations.  But before we get to an observation or two, here is a recap on the process for how Congress can choose to invest money into a flood risk management project with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

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Will the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) be reauthorized, extended, or what?

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will expire at the end of the month. For anyone that has read the newspaper lately, this is a lousy time for the program to expire with two hurricanes bearing down on the Eastern seaboard, and Texas’ largest city recovering from a 100-year storm. But politically, it is a wonderful time for the program to expire. First, there are suddenly many members of Congress motivated to ensure it doesn’t expire. Secondly, the risk of flood, and the shortfalls of the program, are fresh in our minds as we consider changes that might be made to the program as part of the reauthorization. While what will happen is still akin to a drinking game with people placing bets, here’s what we currently know.

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How Should the Flood Management Community Deal with the Uncertainty of Climate Change?

Despite reticence in Washington, D.C. about the term “climate change” (see yesterday’s blog post on this topic), there is plenty of discussion in the media and in scientific circles about whether intense, off-the-charts storms like Hurricane Harvey are the result of, or are associated with, climate change. Unfortunately, we are unlikely to see a widely agreed-upon answer to that question (at least in political circles) in the near future. The good news is that the flood management community doesn’t need to have a precise answer to that question in order to consider how to deal with the uncertainty associated with changes in climate that scientists are predicting over the next few decades. Continue Reading

Senate Democrats Are Eager to Invest in Infrastructure, Including Flood (but what about Climate Change?)

The democratic members of the Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee took the initiative to lay out their priorities for a future infrastructure package. Those priorities, totaling over $500 billion, are included in a July 21, 2017 EPW Minority Letter on Infrastructure to Chairman Barrasso (WY).  They include only the types of infrastructure which are under EPW’s jurisdiction, but the Senators do make clear their desire to see a comprehensive infrastructure package that would extend well beyond EPW’s purview.  As well the letter specifies the need for direct federal investments rather than relying on private financing.  Interestingly, within the list of priorities is a proposal for $25 billion for resiliency for extreme weather events.

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Flooding in Houston: Can We – Should We? – Plan for Such Massive Flooding Events?

All eyes are appropriately on Houston right now, where record rainfall has led to catastrophic flooding, loss of life, inestimable damages, and years if not decades of recovery and re-building. Around the country, many communities are now sitting up and paying more attention to that question, “what if that happened here?” Here in Sacramento, where Hurricane Katrina served as a stark warning in 2005 of what can happen when a large storm event overwhelms a flood protection system, the State and local flood protection and maintenance agencies have been hard at work bringing urban levees up to higher standards of protection, consistent with the State’s Central Valley Flood Protection Plan. That Plan was required by Legislation passed in 2007 and paid for by a bond initiative passed by California voters in 2006 – both a clear response to the damage and loss of life in New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina. Continue Reading

A Quick Look at What’s Ahead on the Water Infrastructure Front

Today’s post features commentary from guest author Julie Minerva.

I often joke with my clients that following issues too closely at the federal level can result in whiplash. To that regard, it has been a very active summer in Washington, DC on the water infrastructure front. Here’s a rapid fire look at some of the top items of interest that we are sure to hear more about in the fall. Try not to get whiplash. Continue Reading

Trump Executive Order Issued on Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and Regulatory Reform

August 15, 2017 was a busy day for the Trump Administration. While interacting with the press and other politicians regarding the protests and counter-protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, the White House was also issuing an Executive Order with potentially far-reaching effects on flood management. Continue Reading

A Welcome Surprise From Congress

Today’s post features commentary from guest author Julie Minerva.

For lobbyists, reading through annual appropriations reports is like hunting for Easter eggs. Unlike appropriations bills which are slim and rather constrained documents, appropriations reports provide an opportunity for the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to communicate directly to federal agencies. Whether it be prescribing direction to an agency on a particular federal program, conveying the committee’s opinion on an agency’s action (or as the case often is, inaction), or holding back federal funds until an agency performs in accordance with the wishes of the committee, appropriations reports are both entertaining and insightful for Washington insiders.  Continue Reading

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