American Rivers * Audubon * Defenders of Wildlife * League of Conservation Voters * National Wildlife Federation * Natural Resources Defense Council * Republicans for Environmental Protection *Sierra Club
(Washington, DC) – A veritable who’s who of environmental groups today weighed in against the Homeowners Defense Act (H.R. 2555), asking that the House leadership defer “consideration [of the bill] until other measures are proposed that would better protect people, property, the environment and the interests of taxpayers all across the country.”
H.R. 2555 – also known as the Beach House Bailout – would create a new, expensive public insurance program and displace the private insurance market, making the federal government the insurance company for natural catastrophe risk. In addition to requiring a huge new bureaucracy, this bill does nothing to ensure that people are protected from natural disasters. By subsidizing insurance premiums in at-risk areas, it encourages development in areas subject to hurricanes, putting people at increased risk for loss of life and property. These coastal areas actually provide natural barriers to storm surge, helping to protect Americans.
In their letter, the groups wrote that the legislation would “create incentives for more development in environmentally sensitive coastal areas and increase exposure to hurricane-related risk. This could leave people more exposed to harm and at the same time increase, rather than decrease, adverse impacts to the environment. In fact, the House Financial Services Committee approved changes to the original bill that would further incentivize development in environmentally-sensitive areas and increase the burden on the taxpayer.”
Instead of simply creating a federal insurance subsidy, the groups argued for a strategic commitment to mitigation as “the best approach to protecting communities from natural hazards and urge[d] Congress to follow that path. This would discourage risky development, protect environmentally-sensitive areas to buffer communities from hazards, emphasize actuarial, risk-based insurance that sends appropriate signals regarding risks. This strategy would do the most to safeguard people, protect property, reduce insurance rates and protect the environment.
For a full copy of the letter, click here.
SmarterSafer.org 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.