SmarterSafer.org Reacts To Rep. Klein’s Federal Backstop Legislation

SmarterSafer.org – an ideologically diverse coalition of environmental groups, consumer advocates, emergency managers, free market think tanks and taxpayer groups – today issued the following statement in response to Rep. Ron Klein’s legislation that would create a national insurance backstop:

“Congress is right to explore reforming how our nation prepares for natural disasters.  Our coalition wishes to see that reform enacted in a way that protects the environment, is fair to taxpayers across the country, and restores balance to the private insurance market.

“For decades, federal natural disaster policies have incentivized construction in hurricane-prone, environmentally sensitive areas. It’s time to update these policies to emphasize smart mitigation measures that protect the environment, end subsidies that encourage risky behavior and make people safer.

“While Rep. Klein’s heart is in the right place, this legislation is the wrong approach.  A federal backstop would subsidize a status quo that endangers the environment, imposes enormous costs to taxpayers and decreases the availability of insurance.  While this measure overwhelmingly benefits Florida, it ironically perpetuates a system that the Florida legislature – supported by environmentalists, business leaders, charities, taxpayer groups and others – is in the process of reforming.

“The smarter and safer way to reform natural catastrophe policy is to safeguard homes and businesses before disaster strikes.

“Our coalition believes that Congress should pass mitigation measures that soften the impact of catastrophic storms and reduce the need for large taxpayer-funded clean-up efforts after they hit.  Congress should also extend tax credits to help middle-class families and others in need purchase private market insurance.  In so doing, Congress can help lower insurance costs while taking vitally needed steps to protect some of our most vulnerable environmental habitats.

“Unfortunately, Rep. Klein’s approach does just the opposite, undermining the mitigation provision he includes in his bill by asking taxpayers throughout the country to keep incentivizing construction in environmentally-sensitive areas that are most vulnerable to natural disasters.  Spending scarce tax dollars on mitigation is a waste if other natural disaster policies encourage risky behavior.”

SmarterSafer.org — formerly known as Americans for Smart Natural Catastrophe Policy — is a national coalition made up of a diverse set of voices united to support environmentally-responsible, fiscally-sound approaches that promote public safety. The Coalition strongly opposes legislative proposals that encourage people to build homes in hurricane-prone, environmentally-sensitive areas by creating new programs that directly or indirectly subsidize their homeowner’s insurance.