Taxpayer, Green Groups Oppose Adding Wind to Flood Insurance

March 13, 2009

The Sierra Club, American Rivers and Taxpayers for Common Sense– all members of the Americans for Smart Natural Catastrophe Policy– are opposing legislation that would add wind insurance coverage to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

According to these groups, the legislation (H.R. 1264) introduced again this year by Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss) would “irresponsibly expose” taxpayers to added financial liability at a time of economic crisis.

“The flood insurance program is awash in debt, but instead of fixing the program and working to protect taxpayers from future losses, the Taylor bill would double down, adding a whole new costly liability to the program,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense.

The better alternative is to increase mitigation and environmental protection initiatives that would prevent damage to homes and the environment, according to the groups.

“Instead of increasing the liabilities of a program that is almost $20 billion in debt, Congress should focus its attention on making communities more resilient to storms by investing in the protection and restoration of wetlands, floodplains, and barrier islands,” said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers, a nonprofit that works to protect waterways.

Ed Hopkins, director of Environmental Quality at the Sierra Club, said the Taylor approach would create a “perverse incentive” to build in unsafe or environmentally fragile areas.

“Improving local land use planning, strengthening building codes and making homes more resilient are better ways to protect communities from the risks of stronger hurricanes, storm surges and flooding,” Hopkins said.

Taylor’s proposal — the Multiple Peril Insurance Act of 2009– seeks to amend the NFIP to permit homeowners the option of purchasing both wind and flood coverage in one policy. In 2007, the House of Representatives passed Taylor’s bill by a vote of 263-146. But The Senate did not follow the House lead.

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