SmarterSafer Submits Letter to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

SmarterSafer Submits Letter to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure

Washington, DC – May 24, 2024 – The SmarterSafer Coalition submitted the following comment letter to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. 

Dear Chairman Graves, Ranking Member Larsen, Chairman Perry, and Ranking Member Titus:

The SmarterSafer Coalition (SmarterSafer) is a national coalition that includes a diverse chorus of voices who champion a united front for environmentally responsible and fiscally sound approaches to natural catastrophe mitigation and the promotion of public safety. The coalition focuses on several policy areas, including flood and wildfire risk, extreme heat,
infrastructure investment, environmental protection and conservation, and overall responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

On behalf of SmarterSafer, we extend our gratitude to the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management for recently convening a hearing to examine disaster mitigation, specifically focusing on the effectiveness and costs of FEMA’s resilience programs. This critical discussion underscores the importance of proactive measures in mitigating the impact of natural disasters on our communities. By evaluating the efficacy and fiscal implications of FEMA’s initiatives, we can collectively work towards enhancing resilience and safeguarding lives and property.

As advocates for effective disaster preparedness and resilient communities, SmarterSafer is writing to strongly advocate for government financing for pre-disaster mitigation and resiliency projects. We firmly believe that investing in these measures is not only the most responsible use of taxpayer funds but also critical for protecting vulnerable communities and the environment from the escalating impacts of climate change and natural hazards.

Pre-disaster mitigation and resiliency solutions are not novel concepts to Congress, and we commend members on both sides of the aisle for their efforts in supporting legislation and policies that promote these measures, including nature-based hazard mitigation solutions. It is imperative that these efforts are tailored to meet the specific needs of the regions they serve. Congress in its adoption and bipartisan support for the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Program and the Community Disaster Resilience Zones (CDRZ) Program, has demonstrated the significance and importance of resiliency and mitigation. The BRIC Program’s support of state and local infrastructure programs provides widespread financial support. The CDRZ Program’s identification of zones most at risk and most in need serves to direct vital funding to communities that will allow for immediate projects and ongoing development of future solutions. Regrettably, many communities, particularly those that are low-income and predominantly communities of color, lack the resources and capacity to access available grants for initiating mitigation projects. It is essential to acknowledge that these communities are often the most susceptible to the devastating effects of climate change and natural hazards, yet they have historically been excluded from infrastructure and disaster assistance. This disparity underscores the urgent need for increased investment in pre-disaster mitigation and ensuring that funding opportunities are more accessible and easier to navigate for all communities.

Furthermore, we wish to emphasize the critical importance of natural catastrophe resilience in post-disaster recovery efforts. Moreso than ever before, communities should prioritize avoiding development in climate-sensitive areas, adhere to or exceed the most up-to-date building codes, and utilize climate science to inform decision-making processes. By following scientific guidance, community leaders can make more informed decisions that will lead to better outcomes for their constituents, save taxpayer dollars, and ensure long-term resilience.

In conclusion, we urge policymakers to prioritize pre-disaster mitigation and resilience projects. By doing so, we can better protect communities, reduce the financial burden of post-disaster recovery costs and long-term economic and environmental impacts, and ensure a more resilient future for all. We stand ready to collaborate with you to advance these critical initiatives and ensure the safety and well-being of all communities.

Thank you for your attention to this pressing issue. We look forward to working with you to advance these important initiatives.


The SmarterSafer Coalition

About SmarterSafer

SmarterSafer is a national coalition made up of a diverse chorus of voices united in favor of environmentally responsible, fiscally sound approaches to natural catastrophe policy that promote public safety. SmarterSafer members include taxpayer advocates, environmental groups, insurance interests, housing organizations, and mitigation advocates. 

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