MONROE COUNTY MAYOR HEATHER CARRUTHERS TESTIFIED BEFORE U.S. HOUSE COMMITTEE REGARDING LOCAL VIEW OF FEMA’S ENDANGERED SPECIES REGULATION
WASHINGTON – Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers testified Wednesday before the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure at a hearing for “An Examination of FEMA’s Limited Role in Land Use Development Decisions.”
Carruthers testified that Monroe County and other local governments around the country already work daily to craft land use policies that comply with the Endangered Species Act.
She said advancing species protection efforts through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program adds another layer of federal review that is redundant and costly, while not increasing the strong protections that already are in place at the local level.
To highlight that point, Carruthers reached down to her side and revealed a large and complicated “Workflow Overview” chart of FEMA’s and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Permit Referral Process – which is for applicants who want to develop in potentially suitable habitat for endangered species.
“This is what is required by … property owners before they can get a building permit,” Carruthers told the Committee. “And this does not even include what happens at FWS.”
The Committee held this hearing to sort out FEMA’s role in the enforcement of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). FEMA continues its position that it is not a land use regulatory agency. While this is consistent with the National Flood Insurance Program, other federal agency decisions with respect to the ESA are essentially compelling FEMA to regulate local land use decisions through the implementation of the National Flood Insurance Program, according to a news release from the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Carruthers also testified that the careful balancing of a community’s unique needs and circumstances, carried out by its elected officials, should not be upended by one-size-fits-all federal regulations that are imposed without consideration of such factors.
While the National Flood Insurance Program is considered voluntary, a community’s participation in the program is necessary for residents who live in a floodplain to be eligible for federally guaranteed mortgages. Almost all of Monroe County is considered a coastal floodplain. There are more than 27,000 NFIP policies for residences and businesses in the Keys and about 1.8 million NFIP policies in Florida.
To watch the hearing or for more information, go to http://transport.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=400684