Sept. 11, 2018 by Christine Klein

From Surviving to Thriving -- The National Flood Insurance Program: Back to the Future

This post is part of CPR's From Surviving to Thriving: Equity in Disaster Planning and Recovery report. Click here to read previously posted chapters.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Eileen and Jeff Swanson faced the unthinkable. They had just paid off the last of the mortgage on their $225,000 home in the Canyon Gate neighborhood of Houston, where they lived with two sons, one of whom is severely developmentally disabled. During the storm, a foot of water inundated their home, and in its wake, they faced $60,000 in costs to repair the damage. Like many Houston residents, the Swansons had no flood insurance. 

The lesson one might be tempted to draw is the one Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Brock Long promoted in a recent congressional hearing: that reform of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) should focus on ensuring that those at risk have flood insurance to speed up their recovery. While this is a desirable goal, it fails to address more fundamental structural problems with the NFIP that the Swansons' predicament reveals. Ensuring everyone at risk is covered will help people to recover after disaster strikes but at a high cost in suffering …

Sept. 10, 2018 by Daniel Farber

This post is part of CPR's From Surviving to Thriving: Equity in Disaster Planning and Recovery report. Click here to read previously posted chapters.

“No power, no water, no transport, roads were closed, many streets broken, houses destroyed and people crying.”

Those were the words of Maria Meléndez, the mayor of Ponce, the largest city in southern Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. She had good reason to complain. As pointed out in the Economist, “even the most attentive government would have struggled with Maria.” But the federal government’s response fell far short of attentive: “Instead of strong leadership, to cut through the difficulties, Donald Trump provided little help.”

The United States needs to do better than that. In this chapter, I explain the many roles of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the lead agency in disaster response …

Sept. 7, 2018 by Daniel Farber

This post is part of CPR's From Surviving to Thriving: Equity in Disaster Planning and Recovery report. Click here to read previously posted chapters.

On August 15, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order to expedite federal infrastructure-related decisions by allowing only 90 days for permit decisions and cutting back on flood safety requirements. Enthusiastic Republicans hailed the step. For instance, Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA) said he was “thrilled by Mr. Trump’s decision.” He dismissed catastrophic flooding in Louisiana the previous year as an “isolated event,” saying that the “bigger threat . . . is from costly regulations.” Ten days later, Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and western Louisiana.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, or so goes the maxim. It could hardly be more apt than in the case of flood mitigation projects, since investments in resilience pay for themselves many times over when natural …

Sept. 6, 2018 by Alice Kaswan

This post is part of CPR's From Surviving to Thriving: Equity in Disaster Planning and Recovery report. Click here to read previously posted chapters.

By the end of the 2017 hurricane season, the American people were reeling from the impacts of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. The press documented the familiar cycle of compassion, frustration, and anger. As people suffered for days, weeks, and months in communities that were flooded, without power, and in need of food and other basic supplies, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the White House, and other agencies once again emerged in the role of villain for their failure to respond with adequate speed or resources, a failure with particularly deadly consequences in decimated Puerto Rico. 

Assigning blame and holding the federal government to account for these victims’ suffering is an important step in learning from past mistakes. But alone, it is …

Sept. 6, 2018 by James Goodwin

Today, 18 CPR Member Scholars and staff sent a letter to Sen. Elizabeth Warren expressing their support for her recently introduced bill, the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act, in particular its provisions to reform the regulatory system so that it works for all Americans. These provisions are just one component of the bill’s comprehensive effort aimed at restoring the principles of government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” to our policymaking institutions by ridding them of excessive corporate influence and by eliminating unnecessary barriers that defeat meaningful public participation in our governing processes.

As CPR has documented for more than 15 years, our regulatory system has become grossly unbalanced, with its procedures and outcomes increasingly tilted to favor the protection of corporate profits at the expense of public health, safety, financial security, and environmental integrity. The Regulatory Reform Title of Warren’s …

Sept. 5, 2018 by Sidney Shapiro

This is the first in a series of posts from CPR's new From Surviving to Thriving: Equity in Disaster Planning and Recovery report and provides a preview of the preface and executive summary. From September 6-26, CPR will post a new chapter from the report each weekday on CPRBlog. The full report, including a downloadable PDF, will also be available on CPR's website.

Preface: An Ounce of Prevention

The story is now familiar. An area of the United States is battered by a superstorm, hurricane, or other climate disaster, resulting in a calamity for the people who live and work there. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers emergency assistance, but since it is not enough to address the harms that occurred, Congress acts to provide hundreds of millions of dollars of additional assistance. 

But imagine a counter-narrative, with a significantly better outcome. In that story, we …

Sept. 4, 2018 by Matt Shudtz

Today, D.C. Circuit Court Judge and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh begins his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Despite the disturbing lack of transparency around his service to the country during the George W. Bush administration, the show will go on.

We asked CPR's Member Scholars and staff what they would ask Judge Kavanaugh if they had the opportunity. Here are some highlights:

You Can't Put a Price on Everything

Ask a parent what they would pay to end the suffering of an asthmatic child, or a miner with black lung disease what he would pay to live life unencumbered by an oxygen tank. There is no meaningful answer – the opportunity to live a healthy life is priceless. Yet your opinion in White Stallion Energy Center v. EPA suggests that monetizing these sorts of regulatory benefits ought to be standard practice for all regulatory …

More on CPR's Work & Scholars.
Sept. 28, 2018

Knick v. Township of Scott: Takings Advocates' Nonsensical Forum Shopping Agenda

Sept. 28, 2018

Argument Preview: Justices to Consider Critical-Habitat Designation for Endangered Frog

Sept. 27, 2018

The Case for Co-Benefits

Sept. 26, 2018

From Surviving to Thriving: Seeking Climate Justice in the Common Law

Sept. 26, 2018

Expanding Environmental Justice to Achieve a Just Transition

Sept. 26, 2018

New Report: A Fair Economy Requires Access to the Courts

Sept. 25, 2018

The Jobs and Regulation Issue Revisited