(Washington, DC) — SmarterSafer.org today applauded Senator George LeMieux (D-FL) for introducing legislation that will help protect millions of Americans who live in areas prone to natural disasters of all kinds—floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes—without spending additional taxpayer funds.
By making mitigation an allowable expense under the weatherization program already funded in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Senator LeMieux’s bill will encourage homeowners who undertake energy efficiency projects to also strengthen their homes. Currently, weatherization funds can only be used for energy efficiency upgrades. This is important but not sufficient in disaster prone areas. Owning or building a home that is in harm’s way and making it energy efficient without ensuring that new features are protective and can withstand a natural disaster undermines the goals of weatherization and exposes taxpayer funds to waste.
“Insofar as the federal government provides weatherization assistance it should do so in a way that benefits the country as a whole. The current weatherization programs give a lot to cold weather states and next to nothing for others. This bill is simply a matter of fairness. Retrofitting homes to make them more storm resistant is a good idea in any hurricane prone area. In the long term, however, this will do the most good if it’s coupled with efforts to move states towards regulatory environments that promote risk-based insurance rates,” said Eli Lehrer, Senior Fellow at the Heartland Institute.
“PIA National strongly supports mitigation efforts because they save lives and property. We commend Senator LeMieux (FL) for his initiatve on this critical issue. His legislation will allow consumers to protect themselves from the many natural disasters that afflict our country. We hope this legislation passes quickly so communities can prepare right away for the next natural catastrophe,” said Brian Marino, President-Elect, National Association of Professional Insurance Agents
SmarterSafer.org urges Congress and the Administration to view weatherization in a holistic way. When energy efficiency audits are done, a review of disaster resiliency should be conducted so that mitigation and energy efficiency recommendations, and upgrades are made simultaneously. Senator LeMieux’s legislation recognizes the value of mitigation initiatives that will protect homes and save lives. For every $1 spent on mitigation, $4 is saved in clean up, recovery and rebuilding costs. SmarterSafer.org urges Congress to quickly pass this legislation so that energy efficient upgrades are not swept away in the next storm.
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.