May 18, 2021

Van Hollen, Schatz, Booker Introduce Bill to Harden Our Infrastructure Against Impacts of Climate Change

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) reintroduced their Federal Flood Risk Management Act, legislation to ensure that federally-funded infrastructure projects are built to withstand the impacts of climate change and flooding.

Understanding the dangerous and costly consequences of flooding, the Obama Administration set standards in 2015 to make sure that federal projects were able to stand up to these risks. The order also took into account how climate change is impacting weather and sea levels. But early on in his Administration, President Trump signed an executive order undoing this important work. Throughout the four years of the Trump Administration, the Senators repeatedly pushed back against this effort and introduced the Federal Flood Risk Management Act to codify the standards set forth by President Obama. As the Congress considers action to modernize our infrastructure through the American Jobs Plan, the Senators are reintroducing this important legislation to ensure that we build back better by making resilient investments that take into account the impacts of climate change – doing so will protect our nation's infrastructure, save taxpayer dollars, safeguard businesses from flood damage, and keep communities safe.

“As we work to urgently combat the climate crisis, we must also address the costs we face here and now. This legislation will ensure our infrastructure is built to last and resilient enough to better withstand the current and forthcoming challenges of climate change. Our bill will not only help curb the impacts of climate change on the lives of everyday Americans, it will also ensure taxpayer dollars are not wasted on projects that don’t meet key standards. As the Congress takes up legislation to modernize our infrastructure and tackle the ongoing climate emergency, I urge my colleagues to pass this common-sense measure to help address both fronts,” said Senator Van Hollen.

"As the climate crisis accelerates, we need to do all we can to protect our families and our homes from extreme storms and devastating floods,” Senator Schatz said. "Our bill confronts this new reality by requiring the federal government to account for severe flooding risks when constructing new roads, buildings, and bridges." 

“The threat of climate change is one of the greatest challenges we face, with increasing temperatures and rising seas causing devastating flooding across our country,” said Senator Booker. “This bill helps address the potential impact of flooding and extreme weather on critical infrastructure like roads and bridges while also protecting our communities and small businesses.”

“Heavier rains, intensifying coastal storms, and rising seas are making flooding more frequent and severe. Absent a requirement that federally funded infrastructure account for such impacts, people will continue to increasingly suffer as their hospitals, schools, and drinking water facilities flood. The Federal Flood Risk Management Act will establish such a standard, ensuring Americans, and the facilities on which they rely, are better protected from flooding,” said Joel Scata of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“SmarterSafer applauds Senator Van Hollen for his commitment to protect Americans from harmful and costly flooding. Absent a federal flood protection standard, housing and public infrastructure—like the roads, hospitals, and schools on which we all rely—remains threatened by more frequent and severe flooding. This legislation is a fundamental step toward promoting community resiliency and protecting taxpayer-funded investments,” said Chris Brown, executive director of SmarterSafer, a coalition of environmental, taxpayer and insurance groups that promotes disaster resilience.

The text of the legislation is available here.