Climate Law Fellow
The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 calls for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to incorporate sea level rise into the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) that inform how FEMA and other agencies implement programs related to flood insurance and flood-related disaster mitigation and recovery. The 2013 charter of the Technical Mapping Advisory Council (TMAC) makes TMAC responsible for recommending—based on “the best available climate science”—how to integrate the implications of sea level rise into FIRMs and into guidelines about how to make use of FIRMs. In its October 2015 Future Conditions Risk Assessment and Modeling Report (Interim) Report, TMAC made a number of recommendations to FEMA about how to factor climate change and sea level rise into FIRMs, and how to make the data behind FIRMs available to state and local actors for the purpose of planning for the “short-term” (2 years or less) and “long-term” (more than two years). Three features, discussed below the jump, make those recommendations especially notable.
FEMA is currently reviewing the interim report’s recommendations and is expected to issue its final approval of that report during TMAC’s December 9, 2015 conference call. Another conference call will be held on December 10, during which FEMA’s Flood Mapping Integrated Project Team will brief the TMAC on the status of FEMA’s mapping program. That briefing will kick off another TMAC review and report, this one required by the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 and focused on the mapping that informs FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA is accepting written public comments until December 4 on various issues related to TMAC’s reports and will also accept brief verbal comments at the beginning of the December 9 and 10 conference calls.