NEW!! Sediment Management Workgroup on LinkedIn
We know how important sediment is to the coast and to you and your job. That’s why we started the Sediment Management Workgroup on LinkedIn. Please join the conversation!
The SMW is a group of coastal practitioners who manage natural resources for land reclamation, ecosystem restoration, beach nourishment, dredging and beneficial use, port deepening and expansion. This forum will allow us to share knowledge and experience to learn how to better serve our local and regional needs.
To join the conversation, go here: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12270820/
Meet Your New Chief of Planning: Stacey Brown
A long-term Corps employee has been selected as Chief of Planning at the Corps of Engineers Headquarters. She spent several years overseeing projects across Corps Districts as Deputy Chief of the Regional Integration Team for the South Atlantic Division and has many years of experience with the Corps. We’ve worked with Stacey in the past and wish her well in this new position. By the way, the Chief of Navigation position is still awaiting a permanent selection. If you have tips for us on who’s in the running, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We won’t pass along or attribute your information.
Highway Bill to Include 'Significant Funding' on Climate
Senators on both sides of the aisle are working toward a highway bill that is said to include significant funding for climate-friendly provisions. The bill should arrive before the August recess and should encourage states and local governments to do more on their own to address climate change through incentives. Best of all, the bill will include funding to support its climate provisions.
Ranking Democrat Senator Tom Carper (D – Del.)and Senator Schumer (D – NY) are both pushing for climate provisions in the bill – and while Chairman Barrasso (R - Wyo.) did not explicitly endorse any of the climate provisions, he boasts that the bill is ‘for America’ and has reiterated the bipartisan nature of the bill: “I am working with Ranking Member Carper to advance the most substantial bipartisan highway bill ever passed by Congress.”
Energy & Water Spending
While the House has finished its version of an E&W funding bill, the Senate has not begun its work on any of the 12 appropriations bills. Senate appropriations committee staff are waiting on an overall number from Chairman Richard Shelby (R - Ala.) to begin the process. That overall spending number is one that Shelby is trying to get the President to agree to. It’s tied up with a looming need to expand the nation’s debt limit before Labor Day. Our sources tell us not to expect action on any Senate appropriations bills until October. Chairman Shelby says that the Senate bills have been mostly drafted, and that once a top-line figure is provided the Senate would move swiftly to pass the legislation. On the House side, Speaker Pelosi is pressing the administration for a deal on the budget and debt issues. With an August congressional recess looming after next week, the Speaker says she needs a deal today so she can put together a package to fund the government and increase the debt ceiling by next week. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he is hopeful an agreement will be reached for a top-line figure.
What to Expect: It is likely that domestic and military spending caps will be lifted higher and House-passed riders that would reverse Trump environmental rollbacks will be deleted , but not before the end of the fiscal year. That means that one or more Continuing Resolutions will be needed to keep the government funded post September 30th on a temporary basis until a final deal is reached.
Bipartisan Flood Bill focuses on Affordability
Lawmakers are set to introduce a bill Today that would provide 1 billion in flood mitigation grants. The bill, the “National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization and Reform Act” is championed by both parties in both the House and Senate and would extend the NFIP by 5 years to 2024, freeze debt payments currently straining the program and cap annual rate increases at 9%. It would set aside funding equivalent to 10% of the funding provided for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to be made available for mitigation and buyouts of repetitive loss properties.
One of the big issues for policy holders is buying into flood insurance for more than it pays out. In the case of Superstorm Sandy, the average payout was a meager $80,000. The legislation will double the maximum amount of coverage for residences to $500,000 and $1.5 million for commercial properties. The House Republican provision that prevents the NFIP from issuing policies to new developments in floodplains is not included. The bill will prevent rates from increasing substantially for repetitive loss properties, a problem that will continue to grow as flooding becomes more common. Some argue the purpose of the NFIP is to discourage development in risky areas, which is consistent with rate hikes in risky areas.
Legislation would help states rebuild after storms
Legislation introduced Tuesday called the “Rebuilding Stronger Infrastructure Act” (no bill number yet) would help states and local governments rebuild infrastructure after natural disasters. The bill mandates that the Federal Highway Administration prioritize resilience in its Emergency Relief Program. The FHWA would develop best practices and require the FHWA to include resilience in its Emergency Relief Manual. The purpose of the bill is to enable best practices that would in turn save taxpayer dollars.
CBRA Problems? USFW Director Gets Another Shot
Aurelia Skipwith, a former Monsanto employee, was nominated for Assistant Secretary of Fish and Wildlife in the 115th Congress. She has been nominated again in the 116th Congress for the position. Those with a CBRA problem who are struggling with environmental agencies may soon have a political point of contact to work with. The purpose of the Coastal Barrier Resources Act is to discourage development in risky areas. CBRA prevents federal dollars from being used in CBRA zones, and federal flood insurance is prohibited. However, there are federal projects throughout the nation that are consistent with the purposes of CBRA but are restricted by a Solicitor’s opinion from 2016. Those projects are now reliant on non-federal funds to be completed.