The President Is Pushing Infrastructure, But Not So Much Through the Corps’ Civil Works Program

Today the Administration released its FY19 budget proposal. As you likely know, the budget proposal signifies the starting point for the annual appropriations cycle which will play out in Congress over the course of the calendar year. Large portions of the budget proposal will be deemed “dead on arrival” by Congress, but it’s important to understand what the Administration is proposing in order to gain a good understanding of the work that lays ahead in the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. Continue Reading

Technical Problems with First USACE 408 Webinar; Tune in Tomorrow for Second

Unfortunately, USACE has audio technical problems with its first webinar on the draft 408 policy.  For those that are interested in downloading the Powerpoint, you can find it here.

Also, here is the draft guidance.  Remember, comments should be due on March 7 (30 days after Feb 5 if our math is correct).

Finally, here again is the information for Thursday’s webinar:

Webinar 2: Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 10:30am – 11:30am Eastern Standard Time
Join Online: https://usace.webex.com
Meeting Title: New Section 408 Policy Document
Meeting number (same as host ID): 968 130 658
Meeting password: Sec408
You will be prompted for your name and email.
Join by Phone:
Call-in toll-free number: 1-877-336-1839 (US)
Access Code: 5149509

Draft 408 Guidance imminent; USACE Webinars Scheduled

Guidance

Happy New Year!!!!!!  Yes, it is actually February, but it is a new year for this blog as we turn our attention to a world full of flood risk reduction actions in the second year of the Trump Administration. We are hearing that on February 6 the Corps will be releasing draft guidance for 33 USC section 408 permissions that will seek public comment for a new policy to be adopted this spring or summer.

Whether that date is correct or not, we can tell you that the Corps has scheduled two webinars to discuss the proposed changes. Here is the information on those two sessions:

Webinar 1: Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 2:00pm – 3:00pm Eastern Standard Time
Join Online: https://usace.webex.com
Meeting Title: New Section 408 Policy Document
Meeting number (same as host room ID): 968 784 150
Meeting password: Sec408
You will be prompted for your name and email.
Join by Phone:
Call-in toll-free number: 1-877-336-1839 (US)
Access Code: 5149509

Webinar 2: Thursday, February 8, 2018 at 10:30am – 11:30am Eastern Standard Time
Join Online: https://usace.webex.com
Meeting Title: New Section 408 Policy Document
Meeting number (same as host ID): 968 130 658
Meeting password: Sec408
You will be prompted for your name and email.
Join by Phone:
Call-in toll-free number: 1-877-336-1839 (US)
Access Code: 5149509

As it is a new year, we promise to be more diligent in sharing what we know and have heard. And your new year’s resolution can be to check back more often to see what you can learn. Until then!

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

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