Key West flooded
© streets of Key West 2013. It happens. Then it dries out.
Another ille­gal action unlikely to be chal­lenged in court?

Mil­lions of Amer­i­cans liv­ing and work­ing in flood­plains and other low-lying areas are at acute risk of being inun­dated - not by ris­ing water, but by a tidal wave of fed­eral reg­u­la­tions - cour­tesy of the Obama Administration.

With pub­lic atten­tion riv­eted on the chaotic devel­op­ments in the Mid­dle East and the severe cold weather that gripped much of the nation over the win­ter, the White House on Jan­u­ary 30 qui­etly issued Exec­u­tive Order (EO) 13690, "Estab­lish­ing a Fed­eral Flood Risk Man­age­ment Stan­dard and a Process for Fur­ther Solic­it­ing and Con­sid­er­ing Stake­holder Input." -

Vio­lat­ing exist­ing law

The exec­u­tive order is more than just a mouth­ful; it is the lat­est fed­eral intru­sion into what have tra­di­tion­ally been pre­dom­i­nantly self-governing com­mu­ni­ties. In defi­ance of exist­ing law, the EO rede­fines the term "flood­plain" to expand the area of the coun­try to be reg­u­lated as such. The Obama EO was issued in direct vio­la­tion of lan­guage Con­gress included in a FY 2015 appro­pri­a­tions bill that pro­hib­ited the Admin­is­tra­tion from imple­ment­ing new stan­dards until it had solicited and con­sid­ered input from gov­er­nors, may­ors, and other affected parties.

In a March 30 "Dear Col­league" let­ter, Rep. John Rat­cliffe (R-TX) pointed out that, "To date, there has been no pub­lic dis­clo­sure on the basis of the alter­na­tives included in the EO, how they were devel­oped and decided upon, or a cost-benefit analy­sis of them." Rat­cliffe fur­ther noted that the EO calls for the National Water Coun­cil "to issue Guide­lines to pro­vide guid­ance to agen­cies on [the EO's] imple­men­ta­tion," even though the National Water Coun­cil hasn't received a cent of fed­eral fund­ing since 1982.

Comment: The National Water Council doesn't exist. Ratcliffe may mean the National Water Agency, Washington, DC, which is responsible for implementing the National Water Policy established by Law 9433/1997 in coordination with public and private representatives incorporated in the National Water Resources System. It regulates water bodies under federal jurisdiction, grants water permits, enforces water use control and applies water charges. It also supports the creation of river basin committees. It is involved in: Water Resources Management, Development or/and Infrastructure, Climate or/and Natural Hazard, Environment or/and Ecosystems, Water supply or/and Sanitation, Agriculture or/and Food Production, Education or/and Capacity Building, Regulation or/and Governance, Energy or/and Industry.

Fed­eral Flood Risk Man­age­ment Standard

FEMA flood definition
The cen­ter­piece of the Obama exec­u­tive order is some­thing called the Fed­eral Flood Risk Man­age­ment Stan­dard (FFRMS). Under the exec­u­tive order, the FFRMS applies to new con­struc­tion and sub­stan­tial improve­ments to exist­ing struc­tures in flood­plains and other low-lying areas. Speak­ing for the Admin­is­tra­tion, the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency (FEMA) has claimed repeat­edly that the FFRMS will not affect pri­vate devel­op­ment. Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth.

Indeed, the new fed­eral stan­dard will "in fact sub­stan­tially limit pri­vate devel­op­ment," says Rep. Rat­cliffe. "Because fed­eral agen­cies must avoid or min­i­mize actions that impact flood­plains when tak­ing 'fed­eral action' - includ­ing when they issue fed­eral per­mits, licenses, and approvals - the EO is expected to impede or dra­mat­i­cally increase the cost of con­struc­tion and labor in low-lying com­mu­ni­ties."
Fail­ure to adopt the new stan­dard could make com­mu­ni­ties inel­i­gi­ble for fed­eral pro­grams, includ­ing port devel­op­ment projects, haz­ard mit­i­ga­tion grants, flood con­trol projects, Brown­fields rede­vel­op­ment, Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment Block Grants, fed­er­ally backed mort­gages, and fed­eral trans­porta­tion projects.

Comment: All federal programs, such as listed above, come with strings attached and cleverly mask government creep.

While the EO is vague on the details of the FFRMS, it says that incor­po­rat­ing the new stan­dard "will ensure that [fed­eral] agen­cies expand man­age­ment from the cur­rent base flood level to a higher ver­ti­cal ele­va­tion and cor­re­spond­ing hor­i­zon­tal flood­plain to address cur­rent and future flood risk and ensure that projects funded with tax­payer dol­lars last as long as intended.

Comment: These new programs are, by the way, also funded with taxpayer dollars!

New reg­u­la­tory regime

100-year floodplain
© www.wilmorelandsurveying.comThe FEMA Flood Elevation Certificate - another money-maker based on "liquidity."
Deter­min­ing what con­sti­tutes "future flood risk" is closely tied to, in the President's words, "a national pol­icy on resilience and risk reduc­tion con­sis­tent with my Cli­mate Action Plan." In other words, the administration's poli­cies to "com­bat cli­mate change" will serve to jus­tify the myr­iad rules, reg­u­la­tions, and stan­dards Wash­ing­ton will impose on com­mu­ni­ties through­out the coun­try in the name of pro­tect­ing them from flood­ing. A reg­u­la­tory regime is being put into place that will give Wash­ing­ton final say over what can and can­not be built and how struc­tures - res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial - are to be con­structed and where.

In tak­ing its micro­man­age­ment of Amer­i­can soci­ety down to the level of writ­ing local build­ing codes, the Obama Admin­is­tra­tion is bypass­ing both Con­gress and the fed­eral rule­mak­ing process. The goal is very sim­ple: Make the pop­u­lace, and the elected offi­cials who sup­pos­edly rep­re­sent them, sub­servient to Washington.