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Yesterday, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and National Wildlife Federation filed a petition with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that would require states to incorporate climate change assessments in their hazard mitigation plans.

FEMA administers several federal mitigation grant programs under the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Management Act, including the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, Repetitive Flood Claims, and Severe Repetitive Loss.   In order to be eligible to receive funding, states must have a FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan in place that identifies the state’s natural disaster risks and vulnerabilities.

Given the increasing scientific research connecting climate change and increased natural disasters (both increased frequency and severity), the NRDC argues that state hazard mitigation plans must incorporate climate change predictions in order to present a comprehensive vulnerability assessment.

The petition asks FEMA to 1) approve only those state mitigation plans that incorporate climate change, 2) initiate a new rulemaking to explicitly confirm the need for a climate change assessment, and 3) issue interim guidance on the inclusion of climate change in the upcoming 2013 mitigation plans.

The full petition can be read here.

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  1. Not all states have documented and peer-reviewed evidence that indicates that climate change is currently a risk to life and property in the respective states. Those who are petitioning for states to include a non-hazard as a hazard fail to understand the hazard mitigation process. Under federal law, the identified hazards must have a profile which includes extent, probability, history and location (if there are unique areas of risk in the planning area). For each of these criteria, a description of how it was determined is also required. Otherwise, it fails to meet the threshold as a hazard. The reason for these specifics is that they are required to best inform decision makers on appropriate strategies and validate that strategies are based on defensible facts to justify spending tax-payer dollars on projects. As mitigation professionals, we have to deal with specifics and regulations. It is our duty to protect life and property without putting money into projects for which a cost and benefit can not be quantitatively determined.

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