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Geoscience Policy Monthly Review: September 2013

The Monthly Review is part of a continuing effort to improve communications about the role of geoscience in policy. Current and archived monthly reviews are available online.

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Natural Hazards

  • National flood insurance rates on the rise

National flood insurance rates are set to rise at the end of the month. Beginning October 1, 2013, owners of repetitively flooded homes and the most subsidized policyholders of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will begin paying 25 percent more each year for flood insurance until their rates accurately reflect the level of risk associated with their properties.  The increases are targeted at 1.1 million policyholders that own homes along hazardous shorelines that are worth less than the claims paid out by the federal government.

These rates were voted into law last July, when lawmakers passed the Biggert-Waters Bill, which is a section of the much larger transportation bill. The increases are meant to help save the indebted NFIP, which is nearly $24 billion in debt as serious floods become more common.

Sources: Energy & Environment Daily, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Government Printing Office

  • State, Federal partnership working to improve tsunami resilience 

Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, the California Geological Survey, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, and other agencies, academic and other institutions are teaming up to improve tsunami resilience in California. Instead of attempting to predict when tsunami-producing earthquake will occur, these scientists are instead identifying the impacts of a tsunami on local infrastructure and the economy. The new report, the SAFRR (Science Application for Risk Reduction) Tsunami Scenario, proposes hypothetical yet plausible scenarios in which tsunamis could hit California’s coast, such as an earthquake off the coast of Alaska creating a tsunami that extends down to California.

These scenarios will lead to workshops in which emergency managers and coastal community stakeholders get together to discuss possible hazards. The program aims to establish a community of experts while fostering the use of science in decision-making.

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Sources: Energy & Environment Daily, the U.S. Geological Surve

  • Colorado Senators want more federal aid

Colorado Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet introduced legislation September 24th to lift a $100 million cap on federal highway emergency relief funds after massive floods severely damaged or destroyed more than 21,000 homes, 50 bridges, and killed at least 9 people in Colorado. The bill, the Deficit Neutral Infrastructure Disaster Relief Act, would take already appropriated money to fund the increase. A similar bill will reportedly be submitted on the House side, as well.

The Senators estimate that it will cost at least $300 million to repair the destroyed and damaged roads and bridges across the state. In the event of a federal shutdown, federal disaster aid to Colorado would not be affected.

Sources: Energy & Environment Daily, the House of Representative







Monthly Review prepared by: Maeve Boland, Geoscience Policy Director; Abby Seadler, Geoscience Policy Associate; andSophia Ford, AGI/AAPG Fall Intern.



Compiled October 1, 2013