February 6, 2015

Cassidy, Cochran, Vitter, Cornyn, Isakson, Wicker, Blunt, Boozman Press For Answers On Flood Risk Executive Action

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. joined Senators Thad Cochran (R-MS), David Vitter (R-LA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Roy Blunt (R-MO) and John Boozman (R-AR) to press the President to provide information on an executive order to change the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS) to account for uncertainties associated with climate change.

The issuance of the executive order challenged a provision in the FY2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (PL.113-235) that states the administration must solicit and consider input from governors, mayors and other stakeholders before implementing FFRMS. FFRMS also requires the adoption of “the most recent science on expected sea-level rise and take into account the impacts of climate change” to create higher base flood level elevations for federally funded investments. A limitation on this executive action was added in the 2015 spending bill following concerns that Congress and the public should be allowed to have input.

Dr. Cassidy previously urged President Obama to not implement this executive order because its development was being conducted with little transparency or input from the public or lawmakers. Federal investment decisions throughout the country could be discouraged, and flood risk policy reforms included in the Grimm-Cassidy Substitute Amendment to the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act could be at risk.

A copy of the letter can be found below.

Dr. Cassidy released the following statement:

“There are many factors that should be considered when addressing flood risk. Millions of Americans, including families and businesses in Louisiana, will be affected. These families and businesses, as well as local elected officials, scientists, experts and Congress should have input in this decision. The president is not a king, he should be listening to the American people.”

Dear President Obama:

We are writing regarding your January 30, 2015, issuance of Executive Order 13690, “Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS) and a process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input.” 

The recently enacted FY2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (Public Law 113-235) clearly states that the Administration must solicit and consider input from Governors mayors, and other stakeholders before implementing a new FFRMS (Title VII, Section 749).  This calls into question the legality of the issuance of the January 30th order. 

In an effort to understand the rationale behind this action, we request that you provide the following information in writing no later than February 17, 2015:

1. Please identify any non-government organizations or individuals that had any role whatsoever in composing, editing, drafting, reviewing or developing any part of the FFRMS, the draft version of the Implementing Guidelines published in a Federal Register Notice on February 5, 2015, pursuant to EO 13690.  Identify the individuals, their organizations, their roles in the process, including any individuals or organizations that worked through a contractual relationship with any office, agency or department of the Executive Branch.

2. Please identify the Governors, mayors, and other stakeholders from whom input was solicited prior to the establishment of the new FFRMS.  Include the dates input was solicited, the dates any response or input was provided, and a summary of any input and responses that were considered in the development of the FFRMS.  

3. Please provide a detailed summary of the activities of the Mitigation Framework Leadership Group since its inception relating to the development of the FFRMS, including a list of Federal members.  Also provide a list of non-federal members, including state, local and tribal governments, private sector and non-government organizations, and include a summary of their involvement in the development of the FFRMS and the dates such involvement occurred.  

4. Consistent with Executive Orders 13563 and 12866, please detail the methods used in determining the costs, benefits or scientific rationale of the FFRMS prior to its issuance, and provide the results of any such analyses.

5. Please provide a detailed accounting of any activities to engage the public and their representatives in Congress in the development of the FFRMS prior to January 30, 2015, not otherwise addressed herein.

6. Please provide a detailed accounting of any funds expended to support the activities of the Water Resources Council, including the source of all such funds.  Identify any Executive Branch personnel, including offices, departments, and agencies, utilized to support the activities of the Water Resources Council. Also include the dates any meetings of the Water Resources Council were held, attendance at such meetings, and whether there was any public notice of any meetings.

We continue to express serious concern regarding the vast implications the issuance of a new FFRMS would have on families and workers in communities along the coasts and inland waterways.  We look forward to your responses on this important matter.