The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced the first four listening sessions for the newly proposed draft guidance to implement the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS) arising out of President Obama’s recent amendment of Executive Order 11988.  As we noted in previous blog entries, the President has amended the Carter-era Executive Order that restricts the way in which Federal agencies can provide funding or permits for projects that are located in areas with flood risk.

While FEMA has indicated that more sessions will be scheduled, the first four have been scheduled in Iowa, Mississippi, California, and Virginia on March 3, 5, 11, and 11, respectively.  These sessions promise to be a good opportunity to hear from the flood protection community and also to influence FEMA’s thinking. Traditionally, FEMA has been very open to hearing from the public and then in shaping public policy in a sensible way as a result of that input.

Perhaps the most interesting issue will be the scope of the discussion that will occur at these sessions. While many in the flood protection community want to talk about the President’s amendment of the Executive Order, the only official topic for the listening sessions is the draft implement guidance. Whether FEMA will be willing to take comment on the Executive Order itself, and perhaps speak with the President about proposed changes, likely remains the biggest unknown.

Here is more information on the listening sessions. Please note that reservations are required to attend. We are also providing a link to a new letter sent by Senator Feinstein asking FEMA to consider extending the 60 day comment period by a further 90 days. We believe that this will be the first of many such requests and if we were betting bloggers we are guessing this effort will be successful.