ABA Article Calls for a Federal Flood Protection Standard

Houston remains flooded following Hurricane Harvey, Aug. 31, 2017. The hurricane formed in the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall in southeastern Texas, bringing record flooding and destruction to the region. Military assets supported the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state and local authorities in rescue and relief efforts. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr.

In A Rising Tide Lifts All Damage Costs: The Need for a Federal Flood Protection Standard, a new article in the Spring edition of the American Bar Association’s environmental law magazine, the threat to America’s public infrastructure from more frequent and severe flooding—absent a modern federal flood protection standard—is made clear.

Heavier rains, intensifying coastal storms, and rising seas—the impacts of climate change—are exacerbating flooding impacts across the United States. 

However, despite these worsening impacts, the Trump administration revoked Executive Order 13,690 and the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS) in August 2017, leaving new federally funded infrastructure projects—the nation’s roads, schools, seaports, and wastewater treatment plants—less prepared to withstand future flood events. As a result, millions of Americans who live, work, or travel in coastal and inland areas susceptible to flooding will face growing challenges as the public infrastructure on which they rely only becomes more vulnerable.

Enacting a new flood protection standard would help better protect people and property, and could ease the federal government’s growing financial exposure by ensuring federally financed infrastructure is better prepared for and adapted to flooding exacerbated by climate change. 

Read the article here.

Citation: Published in Natural Resources & Environment Volume 34, Number 4, Spring 2020. © 2020 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.

About the Authors

Joel Scata

Water and Climate Attorney, Water Initiatives, Healthy People & Thriving Communities Program

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