Pew Applauds Executive Order Restoring Flood Resilience Standard for America’s Communities

Biden administration action ensures taxpayer-funded projects will be built to withstand future flooding

Biden Administration Restores Flood Resilience

Editor's note: After this executive order was issued, legal experts determined that the order did not clearly and immediately reinstate President Barack Obama’s executive order that established the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard. To clarify both that the Obama executive order and the guidelines issued under authority of that order were in effect, President Joe Biden issued a second executive order, Climate-Related Financial Risk, on May 20, 2021, which clarified the legal interpretations of the first action.

WASHINGTON—The Pew Charitable Trusts welcomed action taken by President Joe Biden on Wednesday to restore important protections against future flooding. Included within the president’s executive order “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis” is a section that reinstates the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, which requires that the planning and design of federally funded projects located in flood-prone areas account for future risk. The move will ensure that federal investments incorporate protections against future flooding risks, including those posed by threats such as heavier downpours and sea level rise.

Forbes Tompkins, a manager with The Pew Charitable Trusts’ flood-prepared communities project, issued this statement:

“This action restores a forward-looking policy that will help ensure that taxpayer dollars aren’t washed away by the next flood. By encouraging the adoption of resilient building and development practices, President Biden’s early action will safeguard communities and our nation’s roads, schools, hospitals, and other critical infrastructure as we face stronger storms and rising seas.

“Since 2000, flood-related disasters have cost the nation more than $900 billion in damages and economic losses, affecting all 50 states. Long after floodwaters recede, the ripple effects include halted economies, extended power outages, and shuttered businesses. By leveraging nature-based solutions and other mitigation strategies, the Biden administration’s restoration of a federal flood standard will steer public investments in ways that improve public safety, cut recovery costs, and expedite communities’ ability to return to normal.

“The new executive order complements legislation passed by Congress with bipartisan support and signed into law in 2018 to ensure that the Department of Defense accounts for future risk when building in flood-prone areas. It would also work in concert with existing bipartisan legislative proposals to make flood-ready safeguards for federal investments in infrastructure and communities permanent.”