Reps Webster & Cartwright Unveil Legislation to Increase America’s Preparedness For Extreme Weather Events

Bipartisan Bill Emphasizes Pre-Disaster Mitigation, Government-Wide Risk Management & Cost-Saving Initiatives

WASHINGTON –Reps. Matt Cartwright (PA-08) and Daniel Webster (FL-11) unveiled legislation on Tuesday to make sure Americans are prepared for extreme weather events, establishing best practices across the government in order to protect communities while saving taxpayer money.

The PREPARE Act will create an interagency council to provide government-wide recommendations on resilience and readiness, which can help diverse communities across America undertake smart, cost-saving initiatives. It will also improve coordination between the federal government, states, and localities, which will enhance information-sharing and ensure the right steps are taken before these extreme weather events occur. The bill also strengthens the risk-management priorities of all federal agencies to ensure the entire government is preparing for the increased prevalence of extreme weather events.

“This bill will save taxpayer money, protect communities across the United States, and boost our resilience against natural disasters,” said Congressman Cartwright. “For every dollar we spend on mitigation, we can save six dollars on the averted potential recovery costs after a natural disaster. Most importantly, being better prepared will give our communities greater peace of mind, as we work to stand ready in the face of extreme weather events.”

“After the devastating 2004-2005 hurricanes, Florida made specific policy and behavior changes to improve our disaster preparedness,” said Congressman Webster. “The cornerstone of Florida’s preparedness planning is resilient construction techniques and improved communication and coordination between state and local agencies. The PREPARE Act builds on the initiatives Florida pioneered. It is a thoughtful approach to improve disaster preparedness across federal agencies to better identify and proactively mitigate risk.”

Specifically, the PREPARE Act would:

  • Create an interagency oversight council to implement government-wide resilience, preparedness, and risk management priorities, and to ensure proper funding and implementation for these initiatives;
  • Ensure local and state planners can identify regional issues and adopt best practices to increase their preparedness for extreme weather events; 
  • Minimize costs by requiring that agencies incorporate extreme weather preparedness in planning activities;
  • Improve regional coordination to ensure greater information sharing and maximum cost effectiveness.

This bill is supported by a number of national organizations, including: R Street, American Sustainable Business Council, National Taxpayers Union, Niskanen Center, Coalition to Reduce Spending, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Reinsurance Association of America, National Wildlife Federation, CERES, National Housing Conference, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Parks Conservation Association, The Nature Conservancy, Evangelical Environmental Network, League of Conservation Voters, American Meteorological Society, Sierra Club, PennFuture, Defenders of Wildlife, Union of Concerned Scientists, U.S. Green Building Council, Environmental and Energy Study Institute, American Rivers, Environmental Defense Fund, Small Business Majority, Marstel-Day, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, Alaska Wilderness League, International Code Council, American Bird Conservancy, National Farmers Union, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, National Leased Housing Association, UPS, Natural Hazard Mitigation Association, Friends Committee on National Legislation, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, The Weather Coalition, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Lehigh Valley Chapter, American Camp Association, American Geophysical Union, Emerald Cities Collaborative, Nestle Waters North America, The American Institute of Architects, Unilever, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Restore America’s Estuaries, National Weather Service Employees Organization, and Environment America.

“Taxpayers are facing mounting costs from disasters ranging from flooding rivers to wildfire to destructive hurricanes,” said Stephen Ellis, Executive Vice President of Taxpayers for Common Sense. “The PREPARE Act pushes government to plan and yes, prepare for these events. We may not know the nature or where the next disaster will strike but we know there will be one. Working together, developing best practices, and sharing information will make the country more resilient and lead to less of a burden on the Treasury.”

"Since 2012, taxpayers have laid out more than $200 billion in regular and emergency disaster relief spending,” said R.J. Lehmann, Director of Finance, Insurance & Trade and Senior Fellow at R Street. “The PREPARE Act represents a bipartisan recognition that this approach is unsustainable and that we need to better coordinate disaster preparation by federal agencies and more effectively respond to what has proven a growing risk to taxpayers.”

Background:

  • The United States can save $6 in future disaster costs for every $1 invested in mitigation grants provided by three agencies: the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). (Source: National Institute of Building Sciences, 2018)

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