At last week’s Floodplain Management Association meeting in Reno, Nevada, the two of us planned and participated in a panel discussion on federal funding for flood control projects under the Trump administration. Attendees enjoyed a discussion on federal funding options for local entities that are ready to carry out a flood control project (or any water infrastructure project, really), how some California agencies are strategizing to obtain such funding, and importantly, a perspective from a key staff member at the President’s Office of Management and Budget, which sets and implements the President’s policy and budget. Continue Reading
All joking aside about a gridlocked Congress, real progress has been made this week on flood risk reduction authorizations and appropriations. As explained below, it is looking like the 2018 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) may pass shortly, and the relevant budget subcommittees are ready to move an agreed-upon appropriations packet forward to their respective floors as well. Also, Congress appears to have put a nail in the coffin for any proposal to move USACE to a different Federal department.
Keep coming back for more helpful information on legal updates & commentary on flood risk and floodplain management.
We are happy to share the guidance on how USACE should be moving forward with projects funded under the Supplemental Appropriation. The guidance can be found here.
The appropriation provided an incredible $15 billion for construction:
Public Law 115-123 provides $15,055,000,000 in Construction funding (Supplemental Construction funds) to address emergency situations at Corps of Engineers projects, and to construct, and to rehabilitate and repair damages caused by natural disasters to, Corps projects. Of that amount, $15,000,000,000 is available to construct flood and storm damage reduction projects in States and insular areas (territories) with more than one flood-related major disaster declared pursuant to the Robert T . Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq.) in calendar years 2014, 2015, 2016, or 2017. Thirty-three states and three territories meet the criteria and are listed in Enclosure 2. Additionally, not less than $10,425,000,000 of the $15,000,000,000 is available for projects within such States and insular areas (territories) that were also impacted by HHIM. The States and territories that meet the criteria and also were also impacted by HHIM are listed in Enclosure 3. Further, Public Law 115-123 provides that all repair, rehabilitation, study, design, and construction of Corps of Engineers projects in Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands (USVI), using the Supplemental Construction funds, shall be conducted at full federal expense.
The guidance confirms, in the last sentence of this paragraph, that the funds will allow construction at full federal expense (without a local cost share). Although, of course, any costs of a locally preferred plan that are in excess of the cost of the National Economic Development Plan for a project will remain the responsibility of the non-Federal sponsor, which must pay such costs during construction of the project.
As always, please check back for more updates on flood protection law and policy.
We have reported many times in the past on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ 408 policy: Here, here, here, here, here, and here. Well, we recently obtained a copy of what appears to be the final guidance, albeit with no date on it. Also, we can’t find it on any government websites yet. So, we think this is the final version, but only time will tell. If anyone knows, please share your thoughts in our reply section below.
We hope this is helpful.
In late June, President Trump unveiled his administration’s plan to reorganize the federal government. The proposed shakeup is entitled “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century: Reform Plan and Reorganization Recommendations.” On page 15 of the proposal you will find: “Move the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) Civil Works out of the Department of Defense (DOD) to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Department of the Interior (DOI).” This proposal has left many people asking questions, such as how would it work? Would it be better? Does Congress need to approve it? And how is this different than every other proposal made in the past? Indeed, during a recent Senate hearing, Senators voiced inquiries about the Department of Defense’s views:
In a last minute move to avert a mini-financial disaster, today the Senate passed, and the president signed, a bill to extend the NFIP until November 30, 2018. The House had previously passed a companion bill. Demonstrating the broad support to keep the program running, the Senate passed the bill 86-12 and the president signed it within hours.
At noon eastern time on Monday, June 11, 2018 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) issued its 2018 Workplan. Although approximately two weeks late, the Workplan contains enough goodies for around the United States as to allow most people to forgive USACE for the delay.
Many thanks to the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority for filing such thoughtful comments on the Corps of Engineer’s draft 408 guidance.
If you filed your own comments, please share them so we can post them here as well.
FEMA has announced that Roy Wright, the director of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, is stepping down to take the helm of a nonprofit backed by the insurance industry. We will be sorry to see Roy leave. He was a great advocate for purchasing flood insurance, for sensible policies by FEMA, and for modifying FEMA’s administration of the NFIP in light of the successes and failures of the problem.
Roy, we wish you a fond farewell, and David, we look forward to working with you again in a position you know so well!