An odd-bedfellows coalition of environmentalists and private-market advocates today unveiled a website and concerted efforts to defeat legislation introduced by South Florida Congressman Ron Klein.
Klein’s bill — backed by House leaders and, in concept, by President Obama — would create a federal backstop for homeowner insurance against damage from hurricanes and other major disasters.
The coalition, SmarterSafer.org, opposes the bill on the argument that it would interfere with the private insurance market and encourage development in areas vulnerable to disasters and the impact of global warming. Presumably that includes low-lying parts of coastal Florida.
“We are opposed to providing incentives for people to locate in risky places,’’ said Ed Hopkins, Sierra Club’s director of environmental quality.
He suggested measures to make houses and buildings more resilient to storms. “We need to reduce the underlying risk,’’ he said.
Eli Lehrer, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, called the bill an “attack on the free market’’ and a “burden on taxpayers.’’
Klein, a Democrat from Boca Raton, defended his bill as a common-sense way to bring down insurance costs by spreading the risk across state lines.
“Our legislation saves taxpayers money with strong mitigation measures to help homeowners protect their homes and reduce the damage caused by a natural disaster,’’ he said.
“The availability and affordability of homeowners’ insurance is a critical issue that must be addressed for the more than 50 percent of Americans who live in coastal areas, as well as other homeowners across the country,’’ he said, “and that is exactly what this legislation will do.”