A Budget for a Better America…?
Nearly 50% of America lives within 50 miles of the coast. Think about that for a moment. It’s not all about the beach – it’s the whole coast. From the marshes and bays to the rivers and stream and wetlands, people from all across the globe visit our coasts throughout the year, producing a whopping $7.6 trillion dollars in goods and services. By the way, our nation’s coastal economy employs roughly 1/6th of our entire population with 149,000 ocean-dependent businesses employing 53.6 million people. All that to say when given the opportunity to support our nation’s coasts, our President has failed. With more and more attention given to keeping funding levels and programs where they are and less and less attention given to the growing problems along the coasts that are already beginning to erode our economies. (Source: NOAA’s Office of Coastal Management).
Let’s look at the facts:
- The President has proposed cut the Corps’ budget by 31% (-$2.2 billion from FY19 enacted)
- Proposes zero ‘New Starts’ for construction
- Flexibility means ‘do it yourself’ (non-Federals!)
- $150 million for a Federal program to identify innovative partnerships to accelerate projects with non-Federal interests
- Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding is reduced by 90%
- Sea Grant Program
- Coastal Zone Management Act grants
- Community Development Block Grant program
Overall, the deficit is expected to grow to $1 trillion, with military spending getting the gains and repayment of interest on the debt all combining to produce the record-breaking budget deficit. The release of the President’s budget proposals marks the beginning of the congressional process to pass 12 funding bills by September 30th that, if not vetoed by the President, form the final FY20 budget for the Federal Government.
Below is an excerpt from our FY20 Shore Protection Appropriations Tracker. Click here to view last year’s full chart. Next, the House and Senate will propose their own budgets before they conference on their bills and settle on final figures.
Shore Protection Funding FY20 President's Budget Request
Copyright 2019 WaterLog
Everglades get shorted –
Both Florida senators and the State’s governor requested $200 million for the everglades restoration project in a letter to Trump, which asks for funding for a reservoir to mitigate downstream effects of nutrient pollution and stormwater overflows. The request was based on WRDA 2000’s project authorization which aimed at a total of $200 million. Trump’s FY20 budget provided only $63 million.
Business Only –
Trump’s budget includes $130 million each for deepening and expansion of both the Charleston Harbor and the Savannah Harbor, which will allow both ports to accommodate the growing number of Post-Panamax ships sailing through the Panama Canal. No complaints here – we need our goods (and we want them cheap).
Assistant Secretary for the Army, Civil Works, R.D. James says budget cuts were not his idea.
The Washington Post has produced a graphic to illustrate the overall proposed changes in Trump’s Budget:
Image: Washington Post
The good news – Congress will add money to the FY20 budget. It’s a game that has been played for over 20 years, especially in regard to the Corps and its budget. It all starts with a low-ball from the President.
The Senate is scheduled on March 25th to take up a post-Florence/Michael Georgia supplemental disaster aid bill (HR 268) that was passed by the House in January. Sens. Isakson and Perdue of Georgia have a competing proposal (S. 572) that has a slightly lower price tag. In addition, Senators are struggling to find common ground over additional funding for Puerto Rico and other issues. Faced with state and local concerns over delays, Sen. Majority Leader McConnell has gone as far as to say “We can tell every bank, ‘look, this is the month to [issue loans].’” The House version HR 268, contains roughly $800 million more in disaster aid than the competing bill offered by the two Georgia Republicans. Here’s a breakdown of its main provisions affecting Coastal America:
- $500 million for climate resiliency project in communities impacted by hurricanes
- $68 million for Medicaid to US territories in the South Pacific
- $25 million for Army Corps ecosystem restoration projects
- $15.5 million for Energy Department Technical assistance related to electric grids
- $150 million for CDBG-Disaster Relief program
The Senate is out this week on recess and will return the following week with a vote. We’re optimistic that the Senate will reach agreement on all the issues, pass a bill and then come to agreement with the House very quickly.
NFIP – Your rates are (likely) going UP! FEMA announced Monday that an overhaul is coming to the National Flood Insurance Program which will be unveiled by the Administration. The changes will correlate actual flood risk to property better than the old 1970’s model which simply determined whether a home was inside or outside of the 100-year flood plain. The changes are expected to take effect October 2020. Property owners facing a price hike, will see as little as a 5% increase in their policy premiums and in the most risky cases, 25%, annually, until the property reaches ‘full-risk rates.’ That sounds like ‘get out!’ for risky-property owners. For those in low-risk areas, you may see your premium decline. For standard risk zones, price increases are congressionally limited at 18%. The idea behind the reformulation is well-intentioned, but not good for local real estate markets and community tax bases. The hope is that increased premiums will lead homeowners and businesses to build resilience into their structures. The new model also includes the cost of rebuilding structures into the policy premium. Congress has set limits on how much FEMA can increase premiums. Interestingly, despite price hikes, the Administration has a goal of doubling the number of structures covered by the NFIP by 2022. The details get fuzzy, so if you have questions feel free to reach out.
According to the USGS, over $150 billion in coastal real estate is at risk along California’s coast. The report is based on sea level rise calculations, coupled with storm-risk data. The report highlights that sea level rise, paired with high tides and storms can lead to a far higher water line than would be expected without sea level rise. Moody’s Investor Service has warned that cities along the coast will need to take action on climate change if they want to maintain their home values and access to cheap credit. Another report indicates that the current value of roughly 2.4 million at risk homes along the coast are collectively valued around $912 billion.
Last Waterlog we cited the First Street Foundation’s report on declining appreciation for home values along the coast Where $15.8 billion is lost in home values from Maine to Mississippi Click here to view the report.
The New York City Panel on Climate Change has released its 2019 report.
HR 268 (116): Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2019, will be considered by the Senate.
S 47 (116): John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act became Public Law No: 116-9
HR1666 - To amend the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 to allow for the consideration of private flood insurance for the purposes of applying continuous coverage requirements, and for other purposes.
S 729 - To prohibit the use of funds to Federal agencies to establish a panel, task force, advisory committee, or other effort to challenge the scientific consensus on climate change, and for other purposes.
HR 1689 – Reintroduciton of HR 2129 (115): To establish the Climate Change Advisory Commission to develop recommendations, frameworks, and guidelines for projects to respond to the impacts of climate change, to issue Federal obligations, the proceeds of which shall be used to fund projects that aid in adaptation to climate change, and for other purposes.
S 745 - A bill to establish the position of Climate Security Envoy within the Department of State, who shall develop policies to address security concerns with climate change and serve as a liaison with other Federal agencies and international partners on climate security issues, to express concern with, and improved preparedness for, growing security issues in the Arctic, to establish the position of Special Representative for the Arctic, and for other purposes.
S 763 – Reintroduction of S 922 (115): A bill to establish the Climate Change Advisory Commission to develop recommendations, frameworks, and guidelines for projects to respond to the impacts of climate change, to issue Federal obligations, the proceeds of which shall be used to fund projects that aid in adaptation to climate change, and for other purposes.