December 14, 2020

Van Hollen, Schatz, Booker Reintroduce Legislation To Ensure Roads, Bridges Can Withstand Flood Damage

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) reintroduced the Flood Risk Management Act, legislation to ensure that infrastructure projects that receive federal funding are built to withstand flood damage. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, flooding is the most common natural disaster and between 2000 and 2017 flooding cost the United States more than $845 billion.

Understanding the dangerous consequences of floods, the Obama Administration set standards in 2015 to make sure that federal projects were able to survive the impacts of flooding. The order also took into account how climate change is impacting weather and sea levels. But, early in his Administration, President Trump signed an executive order that would undo this important work. This legislation is a common-sense measure designed to codify the Obama standards. Doing so will protect our nation's infrastructure, conserve valuable taxpayer dollars, safeguard businesses from flood damage, and keep communities safe. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center – which backs this legislation – 85 percent of Americans support “requiring that federally funded structures be designed to better withstand flooding.”

“Across our state and our country, Americans are facing the everyday toll of climate change – especially the consequences of flooding. This bill will help protect our communities and local businesses by ensuring that our roads, bridges, and other infrastructure are designed and built to withstand these impacts. By investing in sustainable and durable infrastructure, we will also save taxpayers money that would otherwise be wasted on frequent repairs. I urge the Congress to take up this common-sense proposal immediately, and I look forward to working with the Biden Administration on policies that both tackle the threats of climate change and modernize our infrastructure,” 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.”

“SmarterSafer applauds Senator Van Hollen for his commitment to protect our communities from harmful flooding. Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States, damaging infrastructure, disrupting the economy, and devastating lives. The reinstitution and codification of a federal flood risk management standard that incorporates sound science and emphasizes natural protections is a fundamental step toward promoting community resiliency and protecting taxpayer-funded investments,” said Chris Brown of the SmarterSafer Coalition.  

“Flooding wreaks havoc on our communities, upending families and damaging public infrastructure - the hospitals, roads, and schools - on which we all rely. The Federal Flood Risk Management Act of 2020 will ensure the federal government is not exacerbating the problem by ensuring all new federally funded infrastructure projects are more resilient to flooding now and into the future,” said Joel Scata of NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council).