Climate

 Climate & Environment

Previously reported – November 2018
Scientific consensus: Earth’s climate is warming
Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.

According to NASA, at least 97 percent of actively publishing climate scientists think that “climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely caused by human activities.” Americans overwhelmingly agree that the federal government needs to take significant action.
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Previously reported – January 2018
North Carolina’s coastal policies among worst in nation on climate change
Days after a federal report issued a harsh warning about climate change, an environmental group said North Carolina’s policies leave it among the most ill-prepared on the East Coast to deal with the effects of rising seas.
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How the Wilmington area deals with rising seas and an increasing number of floods
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Brunswick County eliminated plans to address rising sea levels. Apparently, no one knows why
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Previously reported – August 2018

N.C. beach homes and coast are ‘doomed’ and residents need to get out, scientist says
Sea level rise is an imminent threat to North Carolina’s 18 barrier islands — the Outer Banks — and the area just behind.
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Previously reported – December 2018
Scientific consensus: Earth’s climate is warming
Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.
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U.S. Climate Report Warns of Damaged Environment and Shrinking Economy
A major scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies on Friday presents the starkest warnings to date of the consequences of climate change for the United States, predicting that if significant steps are not taken to rein in global warming, the damage will knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the American economy by century’s end. The report, which was mandated by Congress and made public by the White House, is notable not only for the precision of its calculations and bluntness of its conclusions, but also because its findings are directly at odds with President Trump’s agenda of environmental deregulation, which he asserts will spur economic growth.
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Climate Change Is Complex. We’ve Got Answers to Your Questions.
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Major Trump administration climate report says damage is ‘intensifying across the country’
The federal government on Friday released a long-awaited report with an unmistakable message: The effects of climate change, including deadly wildfires, increasingly debilitating hurricanes and heat waves, are already battering the United States, and the danger of more such catastrophes is worsening.

The report’s authors, who represent numerous federal agencies, say they are more certain than ever that climate change poses a severe threat to Americans’ health and pocketbooks, as well as to the country’s infrastructure and natural resources. And while it avoids policy recommendations, the report’s sense of urgency and alarm stands in stark contrast to the lack of any apparent plan from President Trump to tackle the problems, which, according to the government he runs, are increasingly dire.

The congressionally mandated document — the first of its kind issued during the Trump administration — details how climate-fueled disasters and other types of worrisome changes are becoming more commonplace throughout the country and how much worse they could become in the absence of efforts to combat global warming.
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FOURTH NATIONAL CLIMATE ASSESSMENT
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Previously reported – January 2019


Oceans Are Warming Faster Than Predicted
Earth’s seas are absorbing excess heat 40 percent faster than previous estimates
Up to 90 percent of the warming caused by human carbon emissions is absorbed by the world’s oceans, scientists estimate. And researchers increasingly agree that the oceans are warming faster than previously thought. Multiple studies in the past few years have found that previous estimates from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change may be too low. A new review of the research, published yesterday in Science, concludes that “multiple lines of evidence from four independent groups thus now suggest a stronger observed [ocean heat content] warming.”

Taken together, the research suggests that the oceans are heating up about 40 percent faster than previously estimated by the IPCC. Since the 1950s, studies generally suggest that the oceans have been absorbing at least 10 times as much energy annually, measured in joules, as humans consume worldwide in a year.
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Ocean Warming Is Accelerating Faster Than Thought, New Research Finds
Scientists say the world’s oceans are warming far more quickly than previously thought, a finding with dire implications for climate change because almost all the excess heat absorbed by the planet ends up stored in their waters.
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The oceans are warming faster than we thought, and scientists suggest we brace for impact
The oceans are warming faster than climate reports have suggested, according to a new synthesis of temperature observations published this week. The most recent report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made what turned out to be a very conservative estimate of rise in ocean temperature, and scientists are advising us to adjust our expectations.

“The numbers are coming in 40 to 50 percent [warmer] than the last IPCC report,” said Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and an author on the report, published in Science Magazine on Thursday. Furthermore, Trenberth said, “2018 will be the warmest year on record in the oceans” as 2017 was and 2016 before that. Oceans cover 70 percent of the globe and absorb 93 percent of the planet’s extra heat from climate change. They are responsible for spawning disasters like hurricanes Florence and Maria and generating torrential rainfall via meteorological processes with names like “atmospheric river” and “Pineapple Express.”
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Ice loss from Antarctica has sextupled since the 1970s, new research finds
Antarctic glaciers have been melting at an accelerating pace over the past four decades thanks to an influx of warm ocean water a startling new finding that researchers say could mean sea levels are poised to rise more quickly than predicted in coming decades. The Antarctic lost 40 billion tons of melting ice to the ocean each year from 1979 to 1989. That figure rose to 252 billion tons lost per year beginning in 2009, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. That means the region is losing six times as much ice as it was four decades ago, an unprecedented pace in the era of modern measurements. (It takes about 360 billion tons of ice to produce one millimeter of global sea-level rise.)
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The Rhodium Group, a research firm, estimated that America’s carbon dioxide emissions, after a period of decline, had risen by 3.4 percent in 2018, even as a near-record number of coal plants around the country were retired. The main culprits were economic growth and rising emissions from factories, putting America’s vow to cut greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 further out of reach, absent bold new policies or technological breakthroughs.

This bad news was followed by a study in Science finding that the oceans are warming at an alarming pace, 40 to 50 percent faster than the United Nations had estimated, putting corals and fisheries at even greater risk.

If that were not enough, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences followed with a study predicting faster melting of Antarctica’s huge ice reserves.  

Previously reported – February 2019
It’s Official: 2018 Was the Fourth Warmest Year on Record
NASA scientists announced Wednesday that the Earth’s average surface temperature in 2018 was the fourth highest in nearly 140 years of record-keeping and a continuation of an unmistakable warming trend. The data means that the five warmest years in recorded history have been the last five, and that 18 of the 19 warmest years have occurred since 2001. The quickly rising temperatures over the past two decades cap a much longer warming trend documented by researchers and correspond with the scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activity. “We’re no longer talking about a situation where global warming is something in the future,” said Gavin A. Schmidt, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the NASA group that conducted the analysis. “It’s here. It’s now.” While this planet has seen hotter days in prehistoric times, and colder ones in the modern era, what sets recent warming apart in the sweep of geologic time is the relatively sudden rise in temperatures and its clear correlation with increasing levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane produced by human activity.
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2018 was fourth-hottest year on record, NASA says
World data shows “global warming shows no sign of slowing down or stopping.”
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Today’s Earth looks a lot like it did 115,000 years ago. All we’re missing is massive sea level rise.
New research suggests the planet is already paralleling the most recent major warm period in its past. Now the only question is how fast Antarctica could collapse.
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Previously reported – March 2019
Ruined crops, salty soil: How rising seas are poisoning North Carolina’s farmland
The salty patches were small, at first — scattered spots where soybeans wouldn’t grow, where grass withered and died, exposing expanses of bare, brown earth. But lately those barren patches have grown. On dry days, the salt precipitates out of the mud and the crystals make the soil sparkle in the sunlight. And on a damp and chilly afternoon in January, the salt makes Dawson Pugh furrow his brow in dismay. “It’s been getting worse,” the farmer tells East Carolina University hydrologist Alex Manda, who drove out to this corner of coastal North Carolina with a group of graduate students to figure out what’s poisoning Pugh’s land — and whether anything can be done to stop it. Of climate change’s many plagues — drought, insects, fires, floods — saltwater intrusion in particular sounds almost like a biblical curse. Rising seas, sinking earth and extreme weather are conspiring to cause salt from the ocean to contaminate aquifers and turn formerly fertile fields barren. A 2016 study in the journal Science predicted that 9 percent of the U.S. coastline is vulnerable to saltwater intrusion — a percentage likely to grow as the world continues to warm. Scientists are just beginning to assess the potential effect on agriculture, Manda said, and it’s not yet clear how much can be mitigated. “We spend a lot of time and money to try to prevent salt,” Pugh says. “I worry what the future is. If it keeps getting worse, will it be worth farming?” If farmers in coastal areas have any hope of protecting their land — and their livelihoods — the first step is to disentangle the complex web of causes that can send ocean water seeping into the ground beneath their feet. Though it’s known that saltwater intrusion is linked to sea-level rise caused by climate change, scientists aren’t certain exactly how salt winds up in farmers’ fields. One hypothesis is that strong winds may blow salt water from the sound into the canals and ditches that crisscross the county, which then leak into the soil. Another possibility is that the salt was left behind by storm-surge events and simply takes a long time to wash away. Or maybe the problem goes even deeper. Scientists are increasingly concerned that rising sea levels are shifting the “zone of transition” — the underground gradient where fresh groundwater meets salty seawater. This issue may be compounded by the slow sinking of North Carolina’s coastal plain since the end of the last ice age about 12,000 years ago.
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Previously reported – July 2019
Earth just had its hottest June on record, on track for warmest July
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Previously reported – August 2019
Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply, United Nations Warns
The world’s land and water resources are being exploited at “unprecedented rates,” a new United Nations report warns, which combined with climate change is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself. The report, prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and released in summary form in Geneva on Thursday, found that the window to address the threat is closing rapidly. A half-billion people already live in places turning into desert, and soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming, according to the report. Climate change will make those threats even worse, as floods, drought, storms and other types of extreme weather threaten to disrupt, and over time shrink, the global food supply. Already, more than 10 percent of the world’s population remains undernourished, and some authors of the report warned in interviews that food shortages could lead to an increase in cross-border migration.
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How Hot Was July? Hotter Than Ever, Global Data Shows
European climate researchers said Monday that last month was the hottest July — and thus the hottest month — ever recorded, slightly eclipsing the previous record-holder, July 2016. “While July is usually the warmest month of the year for the globe, according to our data it also was the warmest month recorded globally, by a very small margin,” Jean-Noël Thépaut, head of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, said in a statement. The service, part of an intergovernmental organization supported by European countries, said the global average temperature last month was about 0.07-degree Fahrenheit (0.04 Celsius) hotter than July 2016.
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Previously reported – September 2019
Major Climate Change Rules the Trump Administration Is Reversing
The move to rescind environmental rules governing emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, brings to 85 the total number of environmental rules that the Trump administration has worked to repeal. Officials at the White House, the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies have called the regulations burdensome to the fossil fuel industry and other businesses. Half of those environmental rollback attempts, like the new methane reversal, will undercut efforts by previous administrations to reduce emissions and fight climate change. Many of these efforts have been challenged in the courts; whether the administration will succeed in achieving all of its goals is far from certain.
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Previously reported – September 2019
Oceans are under threat, report warns
Climate change is disrupting seafood harvests, posing risks to important marine ecosystems and threatening the well-being of hundreds of millions of coastal residents, according to a United Nations report released today.

The report, based on more than 7,000 studies, represents the most extensive look so far at the effects of climate change on oceans, ice sheets, mountain snowpack and permafrost. (Read it here.)

Why it matters: The oceans have long served as a buffer against global warming, absorbing carbon dioxide and excess heat. Without those protections, the land would be heating much more rapidly.

New U.N. climate report: Monumental change already here for world’s oceans and frozen regions
Growing coastal flooding is inevitable, and damage to corals and other marine life has already been unleashed. But scientists say the world still has time to avert even more severe consequences.
Climate change is already having staggering effects on oceans and ice-filled regions that encompass 80 percent of the Earth, and future damage from rising seas and melting glaciers is now all but certain, according to a sobering new report from the United Nations. The warming climate is killing coral reefs, supercharging monster storms, and fueling deadly marine heat waves and record losses of sea ice. And Wednesday’s report on the world’s oceans, glaciers, polar regions and ice sheets finds that such effects foreshadow a more catastrophic future as long as greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked. Given current emissions levels, a number of serious effects are essentially unavoidable, says the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
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Update –

There’s something happening here

What it is ain’t exactly clear

Development Fees

Review of Development Fees Timeline

Previously reported – February 2018

North Carolina General Assembly – House Bill 1730 / S.L. 2004-96
Enacted on 07/13/2004
Gives us the authority to impose sewer fees
For more information » click here

Holden Beach Sewer Treatment Fee
For more information » click here

House Bill 436 / Public Water and Sewer System Development Fee Act
Enacted on 07/20/2017
Eliminates the authority to charge the sewer fee
Authority to impose fees has been modified
Necessitates us having to retool water and sewer fee rate schedule
Recommends it be prepared by licensed professional engineer
Town must comply not later than July 1, 2018
Town Manager plans to commission McGill and Associates to develop rate schedule
For more information » click here

Previously reported – April 2018
McGill and Associates has prepared the System Development Fees Report for the Town. The report was posted to our website on March 26th and written comments were solicited. The report must be posted for at least 45 days.

In accordance with §162A-209, after expiration of the posting period, the Board needs to hold a public hearing prior to considering the adoption of the analysis. We recommend the Board schedule the public hearing for May 14th.

System Development Fees Report
Click here to view the System Development Fees Report prepared by McGill and Associates in accordance with HB 436. Written comments on the report may be sent to heather@hbtownhall.com. Comments will also be accepted by mail at Town of Holden Beach, Attn: Heather Finnell, 110 Rothschild Street, Holden Beach, NC 28462. The Board will schedule a public hearing prior to considering the adoption of the analysis. Information on the public hearing date will be provided when available.

Previously reported – May 2018
In accordance with §162A-209, after expiration of the posting period, the Board needs to hold a public hearing prior to considering the adoption of the analysis. The Board has scheduled to hold a Public Hearing on May 23rd at 1:00pm

Notice of Public Hearing
The Board of Commissioners of the Town of Holden Beach will hold a Public Hearing on May 23, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. or shortly thereafter in the Town Hall Public Assembly, 110 Rothschild Street, Holden Beach, NC 28462 to hear a presentation on the study of System Development Fees that could be levied by the Town. This hearing, the study and the presentation are in accordance with NC Administrative Code 15A NCAC 18C.0409 and 15A NCAC 02T.011. McGill Associates will present the study results which is posted on our website. Click here to view the study. All interested people are invited to attend.

Previously reported – June 2018
Agenda Packet –
Legislation House Bill 436 required a Public Hearing as one of the steps that must happen before the Town can move forward and implement the charges. HB436 is prescriptive, with precise instructions and the report given is in accordance with the legislation. The next steps are adoption of the study report and creating Ordinance that incorporates the recommended fees into a fee schedule. This process must be completed no later than July 1st. We are required to review the fee schedule and must reevaluate it in a maximum five-year timeframe.

RESOLUTION 18-04 / ADOPTING SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT FEES REPORT
RESOLUTION 18-05 / AMENDING THE HOLDEN BEACH FEE SCHEDULE

Fee Schedule / Water and Sewer System Development Fees

  1. Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) Capacity Fees- based on a three-bedroom single family dwelling, NC Administrative Code 15A NCAC 18C.000409 & 15A NCAC 02T.0114 and McGill Associates Cost Justified Water and Wastewater System Development Fees Report Capacity dated March 2018.
    . a. Water Capacity Fee = $5,792 ($14.48 per gallon per day)
    . b.Sewer Capacity Fee= $14,785 ($41.07 per gallon per day)
  1. Residential capacities above/below the rated three-bedroom ERU in para 1 above shall be calculated and fees assessed on a pro rata per bedroom basis using the applicable Administrative code and the McGill Report as guide.
  1. Vacant lots that have never been connected to the Town’s sewer system will be credited in an amount equal to the sewer capacity fee for one ERU (3 bedrooms); however, no credit shall be provided for said vacant lots that have not paid sewer share fees to the Town of Holden Beach as previously authorized by Town of Holden Beach Ordinance 02·13 dated 10-14-02 “Chapter 52-04-Share Fees”
  1. Vacant lots that have been previously connected to the Town’s water and sewer systems and are being redeveloped will be credited in an amount equal to the prorated amount of water and sewer capacity fees in para 1 above per bedroom based on the actual number of bedrooms previously connected. The Town of Holden Beach Building Inspector may use any and all public information available to ascertain the number of bedrooms to use for the credit.
  1. Water and sewer service capacity requirements (gallons per day) for other than residential dwellings shall be determined in accordance with the applicable NC Administrative Code referenced above and fees calculated as follows:
    .
    a. Water Capacity Fee= Required gallons per day multiplied by $14.48 per
    . b.
    Sewer Capacity Fee= Required gallons per day multiplied by $41.07 per gallon.
    . c.
    Fee calculations for water and sewer capacity fees based on changes in uses of a property that cause capacity usage changes will provide for determining a credit for the existing use water and sewer capacity charges against the new uses’ water and sewer capacity requirements as established by the NC Administrative Code referenced above.
  2. Sewer Capacity charges and credits shall be calculated and collected at the time a building permit is applied for.

TOWN OF HOLDEN BEACH / RESOLUTION 18-04
RESOLUTION ADOPTING SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT FEES REPORT

WHEREAS, Session law 2017-138 (House Bill 436) known as the “Public Water and Sewer System Development Fee Act” sets certain standards and limitations before a town may adopt a system development fee for water and sewer service; and

WHEREAS, said Act requires that a system development fee be established only after written analysis prepared by a qualified financial professional or qualified licensed professional engineer in a manner as set forth in said Act; and

WHEREAS, the Town of Holden Beach has retained McGill Associates, a qualified and licensed professional engineer and consulting firm, to perform said analysis in accordance with said Act; and

WHEREAS, McGill Associates has performed said analysis and delivered a written report to the

Town of Holden Beach pursuant to said Act; and

WHEREAS, the Audit Committee of the Town of Holden Beach has reviewed the report and had no comment other than it appeared to be accomplished in accordance with the Act; and

WHEREAS, the analysis has been posted on the Town’s website as required in said Act and a public hearing has been held as required in said Act; and

WHEREAS, all other conditions, standards and requirements of said Act has been satisfied.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLIVED by the Holden Beach Board of Commissioners that the Town hereby adopts and approves the Cost-Justified Water and Wastewater System Development Fees Report created by McGill Associates, dated March 2018.
A decision was made – Approved unanimously

TOWN OF HOLDEN BEACH / RESOLUTION 18-05
RESOULUTION AMENDING THE HOLDEN BEACH FEE SCHEDULE

WHEREAS. the Town of Holden Beach Board of Commissioners adopted the Cost-Justified Water and Wastewater System Development Fees Report created by McGill Associates, dated March 2018; and

WHEREAS, the Holden Beach Fee Schedule needs to be updated to reflect the recommendations in the Report.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Commissioners of the Town of Holden Beach, North Carolina does hereby approve the deletion of the Impact Fees and the Share Cost sections and the addition of the Water and Sewer System Development Fees (Attachment 1) to the Holden Beach Fee Schedule.
A decision was made – Approved unanimously

Previously reported – July 2018
RESOLUTION 18-04 / ADOPTING SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT FEES REPORT
RESOLUTION 18-05 / AMENDING THE HOLDEN BEACH FEE SCHEDULE

Fee is based on combination of existing system capacity and planned capital improvements to expand capacity

An unintended consequence of System Development Fee adopted in June
.
Seven (7) bedroom permit was $10,000 now costs $30,000 a difference of $20,000
. • Five (5) bedroom permit was $7,000 now costs $21,000 a difference of $14,000

That’s a whapping 300% increase which will negatively impact new construction on the island. By comparison, Ocean Isle Beach had a minor increase since their system is older and already paid for. I’d expect to see both the General Contractors and the Realtors up in arms. Unchanged we will have significantly reduced the future revenue stream from new construction from both our Ad Valorem and Occupancy taxes. Really don’t see how the Board doesn’t have to reevaluate the fee schedule.

Town Attorney Noel Fox walked them through the prescriptive legislation and all the protocols that were followed which was a lengthy and complicated procedure. Most of the community including contractors and realtors were unaware of the significant fee increase. Based on what was presented to the public, a reasonable case could be made that posting System Development Fees without any explanation given as to the effect on construction cost is why no one questioned the report or even knew the building permit fees would be impacted. Although the process was followed as required, they are now aware that people who needed to know didn’t. Thus, the brouhaha. In an attempt to address any misunderstanding, the Board submitted some thirty (30) questions for the Town Manager to complete and post on the Town website. It appears that they are at least willing to give it a second look. They were elected, and it is strictly their call whether to make an adjustment or not. I got the feeling that the Board took umbrage to some of the comments that were made, particularly a lack of understating what the fee schedule change would actually translate to in dollars and cents. In addition, they questioned the negative economic impact that was suggested by some of the speakers. If in fact they decide to reduce the development fee it was established that they can’t make it retroactive.

 


This Board –
. 1)
chose to implement the max recommended fee schedule
. 2)
did not adequately consider whether the increased fee would “unduly burden new development”

Previously reported – August 2018
Water and Sewer System Development Fee
The North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 436 in July 2017, amending Chapter 162A of the General Statutes by adding “Article 8, System Development Fees.” This amendment was enacted as “An Act to Provide for Uniform Authority to Implement System Development Fees for Public Water and Sewer Systems in North Carolina and to Clarify the Applicable Statute of Limitations.” in HB436, which requires compliance with designated calculation methodology by July 1, 2018.

In response to the House Bill 436, the Town of Holden Beach retained McGill and Associates to complete a system development fee analysis. Based on the Town of Holden Beach’s combination of existing system capacity and planned capital improvements to expand capacity, the development fee, in accordance with HB 436 rules for an Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) for water and sewer was calculated to be $20,577. ERU is defined as the water and sewer capacities required to serve the most typical user type, which is a three-bedroom single-family dwelling.

McGill Associates has calculated costs for water and wastewater capacity on a per gallon per day basis for the Town of Holden Beach. This calculation was performed using the Combined Method to account for the Town’s combination of existing capacity and planned future capacity expansion through capital expenditure. This calculation resulted in a development fee of $20,577 for an Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU). ERU is defined as the water and sewer capacities required to serve the most typical user type, which is a three-bedroom single-family dwelling. The fee for other types of development can be calculated by applying the calculated the cost of capacity per gallon of flow per day to the water and wastewater demands for various uses as defined by NC Administrative Code 15A NCAC 18C .0409 and 15A NCAC 02T.0114. Using NC Administrative Code 15A NCAC 18C.0409 and 15A NCAC 02T.0114 ensures that the same standard used to plan, design, construct and finance capital assets is applied as the same cost recovery basis to be applied to new development.

The Town may elect to charge less than the cost-justified System Development Fee documented in this report. Any adjustment must be calculated on a cost per unit volume basis, meaning the same cost per gallon adjustment must be applied equally to all customers.

Repeal the Board’s Previous Vote on Implementation of the Water and Sewer Development Fees

They repealed and replaced the development fee schedule
. 1)
Repealed Resolution 18-05
. 2)
Replaced with the following interim fee schedule:
.
Water Capacity Fee is $100 per bedroom
.
Sewer Capacity Fee is $2,700 per bedroom

A five (5) bedroom in the sewer fee schedule before June 30th was $13,125
A five (5) bedroom in the new interim sewer fee schedule after June 30th is $13,500
A five (5) bedroom in both the old and the new interim water fee schedule is $500
Total cost of $14,000 vs. $13,625, approximately what the fees were before July 1st

For those property owners that already paid their sewer share fee they will get a credit of $2,700 per bedroom up to and including a five-bedroom house; additional bedrooms will be assessed at $2,700 per bedroom

This is an interim fee schedule until they have an opportunity to reevaluate the situation

A decision was made – Approved (3-2)
Vote was three (3) to two (2), no surprise there
Mayor Pro Tem Sullivan and Commissioner Kwiatkowski both voted against the motion

Previously reported – October 2018
Discussion of Activities and Timelines to Re-conduct the Determination of Maximum Sewer and Water System Development Fees and Subsequently Set “Permanent Fees Before the End of 2018 – Commissioner Kwiatkowski

All Pat said is that the interim rates would remain in effect for the next ninety (90) days which takes us into 2019.

No discussion of activities, timelines, or variables being considered were shared with the public.

Previously reported – February 2019

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This was supposed to be an interim fee schedule
They committed to permanent fees before the end of 2018
Then they said the interim fees would remain in effect for the next ninety (90) days
Well both of those dates have come and gone
A permanent fee schedule has yet to be adopted

Previously reported –September 2019
System Development Fees lawsuit filed on Oak Island
We have filed an Amicus Brief in support of their position
THB will delay activity on our System Development Fees until this has been adjudicated

In split decision, court sides with property owners in Oak Island sewer lawsuit, town plans to appeal
Reversing the decision of the lower court, the Court of Appeals of North Carolina ruled against the Town of Oak Island in a lawsuit raised by property owners of undeveloped lots, despite one judge on the panel dissenting. The issue between property owners and the town dates back to 2015, when owners of undeveloped property on the island filed suit regarding the town’s sewer service fees. Tuesday, Oak Island’s sewer system cost $140 million to install. In 2004, action from North Carolina’s General Assembly allowed the town to charge property owners fees related to the sewer system in order to help reduce the debt the town carried as a result of the sewer installation. The action allows Oak Island to “impose annual fees for the availability of sewer service” on property owners who could or do benefit from the service. From 2010 to 2017, that resulted in developed property owners paying a total of $4,478.57 in fees, while undeveloped property owners would have paid $3,978.08. Additionally, the court pointed out in its ruling that from 2015 to 2017, the owners of undeveloped properties were actually paying more per year than those who owned developed lots. The term “availability” is what the court’s decision ultimately hinged upon, because the plaintiff property owners argued that for those with undeveloped lots, the sewer system is not actually “available” to them. Therefore, they argued, they should not be subject to the fees. They further argued charging undeveloped properties went beyond what the statute establishing the fees allows, and that the collection of the fees was unconstitutional. The appeals court agreed, saying: “although the Session Laws do not define the term ‘availability’ for purposes of imposing the sewer service availability fees, it is clear that the enabling Session Laws do not, as a matter of law, apply to Plaintiffs’ undeveloped property.” Originally, the plaintiffs wanted the court to declare the fees unconstitutional, as well as order the town to refund the fees paid by the owners of the undeveloped properties. In May 2018, when Brunswick County Superior Court Judge James Ammons found in favor of Oak Island, the plaintiffs attempted to change their plea, only asking for the refund. However, the court declined their motion to amend, and instead ruled in favor of Oak Island’s countersuit, therefore upholding the fee structure. As far as those occurrences, the appeals court said it could not weigh in, because the matters were never ruled upon, and therefore couldn’t be appealed. Judge Allegra Collins disagreed with her two fellow judicial colleagues, arguing the opposite with regard to the “availability” language. Collins argues that just because property owners would have to go through the development process in order to connect to the sewer system, doesn’t mean that it isn’t “available” to them. Despite the split decision, the Court of Appeals ruling reverses the ruling and remands the issue back to Brunswick County Superior Court. Town Attorney Brian Edes said in an email Tuesday the town will likely appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. His statement read: The North Carolina Court of Appeals issued a split opinion today ultimately holding that the subject 2006 N.C. Session Law does not authorize the Town of Oak Island to charge a sewer district fee to owners of undeveloped lots. Naturally, we are disappointed with this holding.
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Flood Insurance Program

The National Flood Insurance Program

The National Flood Insurance Program aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures. It does so by providing affordable insurance to property owners and by encouraging communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations. These efforts help mitigate the effects of flooding on new and improved structures. Overall, the program reduces the socio-economic impact of disasters by promoting the purchase and retention of general risk insurance, but also of flood insurance, specifically.
Read more » click here

Previously reported – January 2018
National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On December 22, 2017, the President signed legislation passed by both houses of Congress that extends the NFIP’s authorization for four more weeks. It previously had been set to expire at midnight on December 22, 2017. Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP by no later than January 19, 2018.

FEMA and Congress have never failed to honor the flood insurance contracts in place with NFIP policyholders. In the unlikely event the NFIP’s authorization lapses, FEMA would still have authority to ensure the payment of valid claims with available funds. However, FEMA would stop selling and renewing policies for millions of properties in communities across the nation. Property owners who are required to have flood insurance would be unable to complete new mortgage transactions. The National Association of Realtors estimates that a lapse might result in the delay or cancellation of approximately 40,000 home sale closings per month nationwide.
Read more » click here

Previously reported – February 2018
National Flood Insurance Program lapses on government shutdown
The National Flood Insurance Program has officially lapsed after the failure to reach a deal in Congress to prevent the federal government from shutting down. In December, the NFIP was temporarily extended as part of a continuing resolution to keep the U.S. government open until Jan. 19, but legislative talks to pass a new continuing resolution to fund the federal government, which would have included an NFIP extension, failed over the weekend. The Washington-based National Association of Professional Insurance Agents said it is “extremely disappointed with the lapse, as the NFIP is a program that is integral to policyholders” and called on Congress to extend the NFIP. “Many consumers engaged in real estate transactions may experience disruptions because of this lapse with some home sales put on indefinite hold,” the organization said in a statement on Saturday. “If flooding events occur during this lapse, some claims will not be processed.” The NFIP was extended 17 times between 2008 and 2012 and lapsed four times. In most cases when the NFIP lapsed, Congress reauthorized the NFIP retroactively, but borrowers were unable to obtain flood insurance to close, renew or increase loans secured by property in a Special Flood Hazard Area until the NFIP was reauthorized, according to a report issued earlier this month by the Congressional Research Service.
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National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On February 9, 2018, the President signed legislation passed by both houses of Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to March 23, 2018. Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP by no later than 11:59 pm on March 23, 2018.

 FEMA and Congress have never failed to honor the flood insurance contracts in place with NFIP policyholders. In the unlikely event the NFIP’s authorization lapses, FEMA would still have authority to ensure the payment of valid claims with available funds. However, FEMA would stop selling and renewing policies for millions of properties in communities across the nation. Nationwide, the National Association of Realtors estimates that a lapse might impact approximately 40,000 home sale closings per month.

As affected communities recover from the devastating impacts of the 2017 hurricanes, a timely, multi-year reauthorization is critical for insured survivors and businesses. Policyholders need confidence not only that FEMA can pay flood insurance claims, but also that the NFIP will be able to sell and renew policies to help them protect against future flooding. Flood insurance – whether purchased from the NFIP or through private carriers – is the best way for Americans to financially protect themselves from losses caused by floods.
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Previously reported – April 2018
National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On March 23, 2018, the President signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to July 31, 2018. Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP by no later than 11:59 pm on July 31, 2018.

FEMA and Congress have never failed to honor the flood insurance contracts in place with NFIP policyholders. In the unlikely event the NFIP’s authorization lapses, FEMA would still have authority to ensure the payment of valid claims with available funds. However, FEMA would stop selling and renewing policies for millions of properties in communities across the nation. Nationwide, the National Association of Realtors estimates that a lapse might impact approximately 40,000 home sale closings per month.

NFIP reauthorization is an opportunity for Congress to take bold steps to reduce the complexity of the program while transitioning it to a sounder financial framework. The level of damage from the 2017 hurricanes makes it abundantly clear that FEMA needs a holistic plan to ready the Nation for managing the cost of catastrophic flooding under the NFIP.
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Previously reported – June 2018
Flood insurance program could lapse in midst of hurricane season.
What home buyers need to know

  • The federal flood insurance program already has been reauthorized six times since September 2017.
  • When the program lapsed for a month in 2010, an estimated 1,400 home-sales closings were canceled or delayed each day.
  • In some high-risk areas, the only option for coverage is through the government plan.
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Hurricane Season Has Begun. Do You Need Flood Insurance?
The Atlantic hurricane season is here, and with it the threat of storm-related flooding. So, homeowners may want to buy flood insurance, if they don’t already have coverage. Hurricane season runs from June through November. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has forecast a “near- or above-normal” hurricane season this year, with one to four “major” hurricanes expected. Standard homeowner policies typically don’t cover damage from floodwaters resulting from rising tides, flash floods or overflowing streams. To get flood coverage, you’ll need to buy a separate flood policy. Most flood insurance is sold through the National Flood Insurance Program, which is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and covers about five million policyholders. A few private companies also sell coverage.
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Previously reported – July 2018
Long-term NFIP reauthorization is essential
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)’s five-year authorization originally expired on September 30, 2017. Congress had not agreed to reforms in time for a reauthorization bill to be signed into law by its expiration date, so it was included in a short-term extension of federal government spending, an ominous sign for an already-troubled program. The program was then subjected to four additional short-term extensions between December and March. In March, during the debate over the omnibus appropriations package to fund the government for the rest of fiscal year 2018 (FY18), Congress decided to separate the NFIP from the appropriations process and extend it alone until July 31, 2018, while the rest of the government appropriations were made to last through the end of FY18.
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Previously reported – August 2018
Your flood insurance premium is going up again, and that’s only the beginning
The bottom line: your flood insurance premium is going up again — and under a policy change the Federal Emergency Management Agency is considering, it could skyrocket even more in coming years.
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National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On July 31, 2018, the President signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to November 30, 2018. Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP by no later than 11:59 pm on November 30, 2018.

 FEMA and Congress have never failed to honor the flood insurance contracts in place with NFIP policyholders. Should the NFIP’s authorization lapse, FEMA would still have authority to ensure the payment of valid claims with available funds. However, FEMA would stop selling and renewing policies for millions of properties in communities across the nation. Nationwide, the National Association of Realtors estimates that a lapse might impact approximately 40,000 home sale closings per month.

NFIP reauthorization is an opportunity for Congress to take bold steps to reduce the complexity of the program and strengthen the NFIP’s financial framework so that the program can continue helping individuals and communities take the critical step of securing flood insurance. The level of damage from the 2017 hurricanes makes it abundantly clear that FEMA needs a holistic plan to ready the Nation for managing the cost of catastrophic flooding under the NFIP.
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Congress passes flood insurance extension, again punting on reforms
The Senate voted to approve yet another short-term extension of the federal flood insurance program — scrambling to move the stopgap measure just hours ahead of this year’s hurricane season. The 86-to-12 vote preserves access to flood insurance for U.S. homeowners, but it again punts reforms to a program that covers more than 5 million households and collects more than $3 billion in premiums yearly. The bill [which was slated to sunset Aug. 1], extends the authorization for the program and its ability to borrow funds through Nov. 30. Lawmakers have been unable to move forward on changes to the program nearly a year after a string of hurricanes — Harvey, Irma and Maria — highlighted the fiscal stress on the program. Claims in 2017 exceeded $8.7 billion, with more claims from last year’s storms expected to be filed in 2018. The National Flood Insurance Program has more than $20 billion in public debt on its books; an additional $16 billion was canceled last year to avoid a $30 billion ceiling on the program’s borrowing. The extension approved Tuesday is the seventh stopgap Congress has passed since the previous long-term authorization lapsed last year.
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Congress just dodged hard decisions about flood insurance again
A federal flood insurance program that’s the only option for many homeowners in areas threatened by water damage was extended Tuesday with none of the reforms many observers call necessary.
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Previously reported – October 2018
With the NFIP underwater, expand private sector’s role
With each passing year of devastating storms and as Hurricane Michael leaves a path of destruction, the financial woes of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) deepen. But despite promising alternatives, until recently, U.S. policymakers have failed to act. However, Rep. Ed Royce’s (R-Calif.) recently introduced bill – The “Government Risk and Taxpayer Exposure Reduction Act of 2018” (GRATER Act or HR 5381) – provides a fresh approach that seeks to transfer federal risk to private capital and reinsurance markets. This legislation represents an important step in improving U.S. flood policy that will benefit both consumers and taxpayers.
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Previously reported – November 2018
Key Insurance Pool Needs More Than A Life Preserver
Congress should permanently fix the broken National Flood Insurance Program

Fifty years ago, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program in the aftermath of Hurricane Betsy, a monster storm that killed 76 people and flooded more than 164,000 homes in New Orleans. Since then, the program has provided flood insurance to homeowners and businesses where a private market did not exist.

The program is broken, however. It’s in debt, and there doesn’t seem to be any help on the way. Congress needs to make a long-term fix. Doing so will not only protect covered properties in flood-prone areas but will help stabilize a market for mortgage originators and others in the real estate industry.

Key Points
Reforms needed for National Flood Insurance Program        

* Make repetitive loss properties a priority.
* Require mitigation on every flooded property.
* Open up flood insurance to private insurers.
* FEMA should update flood maps quickly.
* Gradually right-size rates in flood-prone areas.
*  Run the National Flood Insurance Program as a business.

The goal of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is to reduce rising emergency disaster-relief payouts, map the flood risk of the entire country and cut down the risk of floods by working with communities on proactive flood-plain management.

Until 2005, the NFIP was largely self-sustaining, but Hurricane Katrina and a series of other hurricanes and storms have left the program nearly $20.5 billion in debt, and that’s before Hurricane Florence hit the Carolinas.

Last fall, Congress forgave $16 billion in NFIP debt. NFIP’s fiscal lifeline has been extended by its overseers more than 75 times during its existence, including 41 times in the past 20 years. It’s due up for another congressional reauthorization later this year, on Nov. 30.

The program needs a long-term reauthorization to protect the vulnerable, improve the program’s financial soundness and promote private-market competition in the flood insurance market. Following are some common-sense reforms that Congress should consider.
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Fixing the National Flood Insurance Program
More than 5 million homeowners and businesses rely on the federally-run National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for protection from flooding, but with each passing year, the program’s design flaws and mismanagement are nudging it closer to insolvency.

Despite repeated bailouts by Congress, the NFIP continues to lose an estimated $1.4 billion each year. The program’s debt to the U.S. Treasury now exceeds $20 billion, which no one expects it to ever pay back.

But the NFIP’s problems are largely self-inflicted.

The program’s fundamental flaw is that the premiums homeowners pay rarely reflect covered risk. Underpricing policies encourages over-development in areas vulnerable to flooding, while over-pricing deters property owners from purchasing coverage at all. In fact, recent estimates suggest that between 60 and 99 percent of Americans affected by recent disasters did not have flood insurance.

The NFIP recently announced that it plans to upgrade its rating methodology to more closely align premiums with risk, but it remains to be seen whether these measures will go far enough to stabilize its finances.

One major handicap to properly assessing the risk of flood damage is that many of the flood maps the NFIP uses to set premiums and allocate resources are decades out of date. Some communities rely on maps created in the 1970s, leaving policymakers and residents without the information needed to make informed decisions about their flooding risk.

But it’s not just the age of the NFIP’s maps; even newer maps are poor predictors of flood risk because they don’t take into account relevant factors like rapid rain accumulation, building codes, or expected population growth.

A recent Inspector General report found that only 42 percent of the NFIP’s maps “adequately identified the level of flood risk.” The report concluded, “Without accurate floodplain identification and mapping processes, management, and oversight, FEMA cannot provide members of the public with a reliable rendering of their true flood vulnerability or ensure that NFIP rates reflect the real risk of flooding.”

On top of inadequate mapping, the NFIP does not do enough to reduce flood losses and help communities become more resilient to flooding. Preparing for disasters is crucial – studies have shown that for every $1 invested in mitigation, society saves $6 in rebuilding costs.

Buildings that are damaged and rebuilt over and over again without adequate mitigation measures are a significant drain on the NFIP’s finances. A $70,000 home in Mississippi, for instance, filed 34 claims with the NFIP from 1978 to 2010 worth $663,000 – more than 9 times the value of the house. A $153,000 house in Alabama has received $2.3 million in claims (15 times its value). Years back, an investigation by USA Today found that owners of 19,600 homes and commercial buildings have collected insurance payments from the NFIP that exceed the value of their property.

Overall, properties like these, which represent about 1-2 percent of the NFIP’s total policies, have been responsible for 30 percent of claims since the program’s inception. The NFIP should end this wasteful practice.

Aligning premiums with risk, improving mapping procedures, and creating stronger incentives to make homes and businesses stronger and more resilient to floods would go a long way toward setting the NFIP of firm financial footing.

In addition, Congress should consider expanding the private sector’s role in flood protection, which the NFIP itself has acknowledged could be a fruitful path. Private market participation would give consumers a broader selection of coverage options, often at cheaper rates than what the NFIP offers, while reducing taxpayers’ exposure to flood losses. To this end, Representative Royce’s GRATER Act is a positive step in getting the private sector to assume these market risks.

Consumers and taxpayers deserve better. Congress shouldn’t wait to enact meaningful reform to a program millions of families count on when disaster strikes.
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Realtors: Flood Insurance Program Needs Reau­tho­riza­tion
Millions of small business and homeowners currently depend on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to protect their property against flooding, the most costly and common natural disaster in the United States. To continue providing flood insurance after Nov. 30, Congress must reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program before that date. Without the NFIP, more property owners could become uninsured. Flood insurance is required for a mortgage in more than 20,000 communities nationwide. The National Association of Realtors supports reauthorizing and gradually strengthening the NFIP, so it is sustainable over the long run. In addition to long-term reauthorization of the NFIP, NAR supports improving flood map accuracy.

Policyholders in more than 22,000 communities across the country depend on the NFIP to protect homes and businesses from flooding, according to NAR officials. Without the reauthorization, the NFIP cannot issue new policies or renew existing residential or commercial policies that expire. That is bad for consumers and potential homebuyers, as well as the broader economy.  When the NFIP last expired, NAR estimated that 1,300 home sales were disrupted every day as a result. That is 40,000 sales every month. Although the National Flood Insurance Program has been extended through Nov. 30, it is in need of reforms that will make it solvent and sustainable in the long term. 

The National Association of Realtors will continue fighting for these reforms as the next NFIP reauthorization discussions loom later this year, according to officials.

Despite years of debate and proposals to fix the program, reforms have stalled. Instead, Congress has passed six short-term extensions of the program. Lawmakers also let the program lapse in 2017 and 2018. The House passed legislation with reforms more than a year ago; the Senate has yet to do so. In July 2018, Congress avoided a lapse in the federal flood insurance program. After the House voted to temporarily reauthorize the program, the Senate voted 86-12 to extend authorization for the program by four months to Nov. 30. The reauthorization did not include any reforms. “Although the National Flood Insurance Program is currently authorized through November, the National Association of Realtors remains focused on ensuring Congress and the White House enact long-term reauthorization and reforms to strengthen the program’s sustainability,” National Association of Realtors President Elizabeth Mendenhall said in a statement. Mendenhall said Congress and the president need to act before the flood insurance program expires.
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Previously reported – December 2018
National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On Dec 7, 2018, the President signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to Dec. 21, 2018. Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP by no later than 11:59 pm on Dec. 21, 2018.

NFIP reauthorization is an opportunity for Congress to take bold steps to reduce the complexity of the program and strengthen the NFIP’s financial framework so that the program can continue helping individuals and communities take the critical step of securing flood insurance. The level of damage from the 2017 hurricanes makes it clear that FEMA needs a holistic plan to ready the Nation for managing the cost of catastrophic flooding under the NFIP.
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Previously reported – January 2019
National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On Dec 7, 2018, the President signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to Dec. 21, 2018. Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP by no later than 11:59 pm on May 31, 2019.

NFIP reauthorization is an opportunity for Congress to take bold steps to reduce the complexity of the program and strengthen the NFIP’s financial framework so that the program can continue helping individuals and communities take the critical step of securing flood insurance. The level of damage from the 2017 hurricanes makes it clear that FEMA needs a holistic plan to ready the Nation for managing the cost of catastrophic flooding under the NFIP.
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FEMA resumes selling, renewing flood insurance policies amid shutdown
Agency rescinds previous decision to not sell or renew policies
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Previously reported – February 2019
Private Flood Insurance Gets Boost from Regulators
Flood insurance policies not backed by the government currently represent less than 5% of the residential market
The number of flood insurance policies underwritten by private companies could triple under a new federal rule that would require mortgage lenders to accept both private and government-backed policies.

The rule, approved by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency late last week, is aimed at boosting the availability of private flood insurance in flood zones, a market dominated by a multibillion-dollar government program. It could usher in private flood insurance for hundreds of thousands of residential properties in those areas, according to government estimates. “This ruling has the potential to open up the private insurance market,” said Michael Barry, a spokesman at the industry-funded Insurance Information Institute. He said the effect was likely to be concentrated in Florida, Louisiana and Texas, where most of the nation’s flood insurance policies are held.

The private-sector insurance industry historically has been reluctant to write flood insurance because of the potential for large losses, but interest has grown in recent years with the improvement of mapping and modeling technologies. Private flood insurance policies currently represent less than 5% of the residential market, according to government and academic research. Most private flood insurance is for commercial and more expensive residential properties that need coverage above the federal program’s $250,000 limit.

The public program had more than five million policies outstanding and $1.3 trillion in potential claims as of July 2018. It is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “If the private market can take care of it, that’s just more sustainable for taxpayers and for society in general,” said R.J. Lehmann, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, a libertarian policy organization that has argued for shrinking the government flood insurance program.

The regulation is set to go into effect in July, as the next hurricane season gets under way. It stems from a provision in a 2012 flood insurance law that sought to partially address financial pressures on the government’s flood insurance program, which is deeply in debt from record disaster payouts in recent years and limitations on its ability to increase premiums.

Congress has for years debated how to fix the National Flood Insurance Program, created about 50 years ago because private insurers were unwilling to risk catastrophic flood losses. Lawmakers, divided based on the prevalence of floods in their districts, have approved only partial solutions such as premium increases or debt forgiveness for the government program. The government, for instance, wrote off $16 billion in debt for the federal program in 2017 following claims made in the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Congress must reauthorize the federal insurance program this year. It is expected to discuss additional ways to overhaul the federal program, such as redrawing the maps that dictate where coverage is required and making it financially stable.

Opponents of opening up the flood insurance market argue private insurers could cherry-pick safer properties that could be cheaper to insure, saddling the public program with riskier ones. And some lawmakers, including Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), have called for increasing controls over the private flood insurance sector.

The rule would require lenders to accept private flood insurance policies that have coverage at least as comprehensive as what is offered by the federal program. Banks also could allow policies that aren’t as comprehensive as government flood insurance, a move backed by the insurance industry but opposed by some consumer advocates because it could concentrate riskier insurance policies in the federal plan.

Narrower coverage will “appeal more to lower risk people and then leave the National Flood Insurance Program principally with higher risk people,” said Daniel Schwarz, a professor at University of Minnesota Law School. Three other regulators, including the Federal Reserve, must still approve the rule.
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Previously reported – March 2019
National Flood Insurance Program needs long-term reauthorization to address key challenges
As the House Financial Services Committee meets this week to discuss reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), there is a lot at stake. The NFIP, on which 5 million Americans depend for protection from flooding, began with the best of intentions — reducing the burden on federal taxpayers stemming from flood relief while providing resources to help devastated communities rebuild. But as the Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman was fond of saying, “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.” Judged by its results, the NFIP is badly in need of serious changes to address its massive debt, persistent operating deficits, and many structural flaws — all of which expose taxpayers to financial risk. With the NFIP’s authorization set to expire in May, Congress has an opportunity to enact real reforms that will put the NFIP on a sustainable, fiscally-responsible footing. Lawmakers should begin to chart a future for the NFIP that addresses its key challenges.

One of the NFIP’s biggest flaws is that it masks the true flood risk of properties by offering a significant portion of its policyholders heavily subsidized rates. One in five homeowners with NFIP protection pay less than half the full cost of their policy. No one begrudges low-income homeowners who need financial assistance to purchase coverage, but most of the NFIP’s subsidies actually go to homes with the highest values. A study by the Congressional Budget Office found that the median value of homes with NFIP coverage is about double that of all American homes. Not only that, but wealthier households tend to get much larger subsidies than middle-income homeowners. Ending these handouts to the wealthy and refocusing resources on the truly needy is essential. Limiting NFIP subsidies would have another positive effect. Currently, by shielding policyholders from the full cost of building in a flood zone, the government encourages more houses to be constructed in disaster-prone areas than if homeowners bore the costs of flooding themselves. Transferring more of the flood risk from federal taxpayers to individual homeowners would cause them to think twice about where to build their home.

But setting risk-based premiums is impossible without accurate flood maps. Many of the 22,000 communities that participate in the NFIP currently rely on outdated and inaccurate flood maps. A recent audit found that only 42 percent of the NFIP’s maps “adequately identified the level of flood risk.” Without better mapping that incorporates improvements in engineering methods and technology, full-risk insurance rates cannot be accurately determined, and homeowners and local policymakers may be misled about the true flood vulnerability of their communities.

Another issue that merits more attention is mitigation. The best way to reduce insurance premiums for homeowners is to lessen the risk of flood loss. Making communities more resilient to flooding before disasters strike by adopting better zoning and building codes and other measures can significantly reduce the cost of cleaning up after floods. Studies have shown that for every $1 invested in mitigation, society saves $6 in rebuilding costs. Overall, so-called “repetitive loss properties,” structures that are damaged and repaired over and over again, account for about 1-2 percent of the NFIP’s total policies but have been responsible for 30 percent of claims since the program began in 1968. One Mississippi home worth $70,000 filed 34 claims with the NFIP from 1978 to 2010 totaling $663,000 — more than 9 times the value of the house. Through more aggressive mitigation incentives, policymakers could reduce this massive drain on the NFIP’s finances.

Congress should also resolve ambiguities in federal law that have limited the growth of private flood insurance; currently, private insurance only makes up 4 percent of the residential market. Greater private-sector involvement in flood insurance would benefit both consumers — many of whom could find lower rates and more flexible options through private carriers — and taxpayers by reducing the NFIP’s financial exposure.

Rather than continue postponing meaningful reforms to the NFIP with short-term stop-gaps, Congress should work over the next several months to craft a long-term solution to the NFIP’s challenges. Without reform, the NFIP’s precarious financial position will only grow worse, to the detriment of taxpayers and homeowners alike.
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House Financial Services Committee Issues Hearing Memo on National Flood Insurance Program
Subject: March 13, 2019, Full Committee Hearing Entitled: “Preparing for the Storm: Reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program”

Background
Prior to 1950, flood insurance was a peril often included in standard homeowners’ insurance policies. However, in response to an increasing frequency and severity in flood- related losses in the 1950s, insurance companies began excluding flood insurance coverage and selling it separately. By the 1960s, widespread flooding along the Mississippi River caused most private insurers to flee the business of flood insurance altogether, leaving many consumers with virtually no access to private flood insurance.1 The lack of availability of flood insurance for consumers left them vulnerable in the event of a flood, and also left taxpayers vulnerable to bearing the costs of flood damage through post-disaster relief in the case of a flood event.

In direct response to this private market failure, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created in 1968 with the passage of the National Flood Insurance Act (NFIA). In doing so, Congress determined that “as a matter of national policy, a reasonable method of sharing the risk of flood losses is through a program of flood insurance which can complement and encourage preventive and protective measures” and that transferring the costs of private property flood losses from the general taxpayer to individuals in the floodplains through premiums would ease the strain on the nation’s limited disaster resources. Congress also passed the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 (FDPA) that requires most property owners in a designated Special Flood Hazard Area to purchase flood insurance.

The last long-term reauthorization of the NFIP occurred when Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW-12), which was subsequently amended by the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (HFIAA). Since the end of fiscal year (FY) 2017, the NFIP has been reauthorized ten times and has experienced brief lapses. According to the National Association of Realtors, an estimated 40,000 home sales are lost or interrupted every month that the NFIP’s authority lapses. The NFIP’s authorization is currently set to expire on May 31, 2019. In the event of a lapse, NFIP will be unable to enter into new flood insurance contracts, which will lead to widespread market instability due to the stalling of mortgage processing for homes that are statutorily required to have flood insurance.

Several Members of Congress have put forward legislative proposals to reauthorize the NFIP and make programmatic reforms to promote affordability, protect policyholders, and improve flood mapping and floodplain management.

Overview of the NFIP
The NFIP is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through its Federal Insurance & Mitigation Administration (FIMA). The NFIP was designed to serve two interrelated goals: (1) provide access to primary flood insurance and (2) reduce flood risk through the adoption of floodplain management standards. The NFIP advances these goals by offering primary flood insurance exclusively for properties in communities that adopt minimum floodplain management standards under FEMA regulations. The NFIP also administers the Community Rating System (CRS), which is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes communities for implementing floodplain management practices that exceed the NFIP’s minimum requirements and, in exchange, FIMA offers reduced flood insurance premiums to policyholders.

Today, the NFIP is the principal provider of primary flood insurance in the U.S., covering over 5 million households and businesses across the country for a total of over $1.3 trillion in flood insurance coverage. As of the end of FY 2018, approximately 22,324 communities participate in the NFIP, covering an estimated 93 percent of the U.S. population. According to FEMA, the NFIP saves the nation an estimated $1.87 billion annually in flood losses avoided because of the NFIP’s building and floodplain management regulations.

In 1983, FEMA created the Write Your Own (WYO) Program in an effort to: increase the NFIP’s policy base and geographic distribution of policies; improve service to NFIP policyholders through infusion of insurance industry knowledge and capacity; and, provide the insurance industry with direct operating experience with flood insurance. This WYO Program operates as a partnership between FEMA and participating property and casualty insurance companies that are compensated to write and service NFIP policies. The WYOs assume none of the risk by participating in this program. FEMA retains all of the insurance risk and underwrites any losses. Currently, approximately 60 different companies administer about 87 percent of NFIP policies through the WYO Program. The remainder of NFIP’s policies are provided through the Direct Program, which is operated by a government contractor and performs the same basic functions as a WYO company.

The NFIP offers a Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) for properties in participating communities within a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). By virtue of the mandatory purchase required by law, most property owners within the SFHA are required to purchase flood insurance. Many of the SFIP’s policy terms are set in statute. The maximum coverage amount for building coverage is $250,000 for single-family homes, and $500,000 for multi-family residential properties, and non-residential properties including commercial properties. The maximum coverage amount for contents only is $100,000.9 If the SFIP’s maximum coverage amounts are insufficient to cover the full value of the property, policyholders may have the option of obtaining excess flood insurance in the private market.

The NFIP also offers coverage for properties that are not within a SFHA, usually as a Preferred Risk Policy (PRP). PRPs include similar coverage but at discounted rates in accordance with their lower risk profile. If a property has a significant loss history, that policyholder may become ineligible for a PRP and would need to purchase a SFIP that is commensurate with the flood risk.

The NFIP’s Financial Status
The NFIP is largely self-funded through insurance premiums collected from policy holders. Policyholders are also assessed a number of surcharges and other fees. In FY 2018, policyholders paid $382 million in surcharges, $188.162 million in federal policy fees, and $496.82 million in reserve fund assessments. A portion of these premiums, fees, surcharges, and assessments goes towards the cost of flood mapping and floodplain management. A large portion also goes to paying interest on debt of the NFIP.

Congress designed the NFIP as a program that would operate on a cash flow basis, borrowing from the Treasury in bad years and returning funds to the Treasury in good years. The NFIP was largely self-supporting in this way from 1986 until 2005, but due to extraordinary losses incurred as a result of hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma in 2005, and then Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, the program currently carries a debt of $20.5 billion.11 It is also important to note that a significant portion of the NFIP’s debt accrued as a result of Hurricane Katrina ($19 billion) could not possibly have been properly accounted for in NFIP’s risk modeling; specifically, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers took responsibility for engineering and design failures in the levees that should have been able to provide far better protection for New Orleans in the face of Katrina.

Taxpayers are not on the hook for this debt and receive millions of dollars in interest payments every year (currently approximately $400 million annually or a total of $4.2 billion since 2005) at the expense of policyholders. In 2017, following a proposal submitted by OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, Congress passed legislation to partially forgive $16 billion of the NFIP’s debt of $30.4 billion, after the NFIP’s debt ballooned following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and other historic flooding that year.

Affordability Challenges
In 2018, FEMA submitted its congressionally mandated Affordability Framework demonstrating, among other things, that low-income homeowners and renters face significant affordability challenges. The report documents that those that are least able to afford higher premiums tend to live in the highest flood hazard areas writing, “generally, incomes are higher outside the SFHA than they are inside the SFHA. The median household income for residential policyholders is $82,000, although it is substantially lower in the SFHA than outside the SFHA.” Further, FEMA found that “the combination of higher premiums and lower incomes in the SFHA creates affordability pressure on households.”

Draft Legislation
* Waters_009 is a discussion draft that would reauthorize the NFIP through September 30, 2024 and address a number of affordability issues such as: 1) forgiving the NFIP’s debt; 2) creating a 5-year demonstration for means-tested assistance to low-income policyholders; 3) reducing fees and surcharges; 4) revising the NFIP’s coverage limits; 5) enabling policyholders to pay premiums in monthly installments; and 6) creating a state revolving loan fund modeled after legislation previously introduced by Rep. Crist.

* Maj_Mitigation is a discussion draft that would make several improvements to floodplain management and mitigation such as: 1) raising the amount of funds available under Increased Cost of Compliance program and expanding the eligible mitigation activities to include the cost of acquisitions, among others; 2) granting the Administrator discretion to consider the extent to which communities are working to remedy problems with repeatedly flooded areas when administering mitigation assistance; 3) granting credits for alternative forms of mitigation, allowing coverage for coops and community-based policies; and 5) authorizing and flood plain management activities.

* Maj_Mapping is a discussion draft that would reauthorize the flood mapping program and provide funding to support flood mapping. It would also make several improvements to the mapping program such as: 1) requiring the most up-to-date technology, and more advanced and granular flood maps; 2) improving the process for policyholders and communities to appeal FEMA’s mapping decisions; and 3) creating new flood map zones for levee-impacted and for agricultural areas.

* Velazq_035 is a bill that would make numerous improvements to the claims process drawing on the lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy. The bill would ensure that policyholders better understand the terms of their flood insurance policies and improve the appeals and litigation process for consumers
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Climate Advocates Cheer Trump Policy Shift on Flood Insurance

  • Premiums to be based on full flood risk starting in late 2020
  • Change expected to raise costs for the most deluge-prone homes

Climate advocates say an overhaul of the nation’s flood insurance program being unveiled by the Trump administration will spur communities around the country to better plan for extreme weather, but could drive up costs for some homeowners.

The changes being announced Monday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency represent one of the most significant reforms in the history of the National Flood Insurance Program. It will tie premiums to the actual flood risk facing individual homes nationwide starting in October 2020. The current system sets prices based largely on whether a home is inside or outside of the 100-year flood plain.
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Trump Administration Plans Flood Insurance Overhaul
Expensive properties could see rate increases under new FEMA plan
The Trump administration said Monday it plans to overhaul government-subsidized flood insurance, in a sweeping proposal that could raise rates on more expensive properties and those in higher-risk areas. The new system would affect policies for most homeowners who own property in flood-prone areas, where such coverage is required because few private companies offer flood insurance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which runs the National Flood Insurance Program, said the plan would start assessing properties individually according to several variables—including hurricane rainfall, coastal surges and the distance to a body of water—rather than applying one formula across an entire flood zone when assessing flood risk and contract cost. The government also would factor in the replacement cost of the home, which could push up premiums for homeowners with higher-valued properties and decrease those with lower-cost homes. FEMA plans to announce the new rates on April 1, 2020 and implement them starting Oct. 1 that year. They could affect more than 5 million single-family policyholders of public flood insurance. The NFIP covers both coastal flood zones and inland river flood plains, though the policy change may have a greater impact in coastal states including Florida, Louisiana and Texas, where most of the policies are held.

The changes are likely to stoke a longstanding debate over flood insurance, with policy makers divided over how much the public should subsidize the program. While those in coastal areas have advocated for more federal funding, both environmentalists and fiscal conservatives have argued the program encourages building in risky flood-prone zones. FEMA has increasingly struggled to pay off claims after a series of natural disasters in recent years. The government wrote off $16 billion in debt for the federal program in 2017 following claims made in the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Scientists say the frequency of such events is influenced by climate change. FEMA’s current system calculates rates based on whether a home falls in a designated flood zone. Since higher-valued properties are more likely to hit the $250,000 insurance cap because they face costlier damages, “there’s an inequity,” said David Maurstad, FEMA’s deputy associate administrator for insurance and mitigation. “Lower-value homes are paying proportionately more than higher-value homes.” “What we’re going to do is change an insurance-rating structure that hasn’t fundamentally been changed since the 1970s,” Mr. Maurstad added. “We’re going to consider more flood risk than we currently do now.” The changes would also leverage new loss-estimation technology, said Mr. Maurstad. In recent years, private insurers have developed increasingly sophisticated models that account for variables including climate change. The agency hopes that a more risk-sensitive pricing could attract more homeowners to purchase flood insurance, even if they aren’t required to. “People even outside the high-risk area will have a better understanding of what the specific risk is,” said Mr. Maurstad. “They will take the responsible action and insure for flood just like they insure for windstorms, hail and fire.”

FEMA faces Congressional restrictions on how much it can increase rates, so the agency could phase in the rate changes, said Mr. Maurstad. It plans to make more details of the plan public in the coming weeks, he added. For years, Congress has debated how to modernize the financially beleaguered flood-insurance program, created about 50 years ago because private insurers were unwilling to risk catastrophic flood losses. Lawmakers are set to reauthorize the federal insurance program this year, after granting a short-term extension in December.
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Previously reported – May 2019
Vote set on flood insurance extension
Nick Sobczyk, E&E News, May 13, 2019
The House will vote this week to extend the National Flood Insurance Program until the end of the fiscal year, another sign lawmakers have again punted on reform talks. The NFIP expires at the end of the month, and despite months of extra time to reach a deal on a reform package, the measure up for a vote under fast-track procedure this week would be the 11th short-term reauthorization in two years. The measure would extend the program until Sept. 30. There are talks underway on both sides of Capitol Hill, but few signs lawmakers are close to striking a long-term reauthorization deal for a program that advocates say is badly in need of reform. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said last week he’s working with Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and John Kennedy (R-La.) on a reform bill. And House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has drafted reform proposals and held a hearing on the NFIP to jump-start efforts on the other side of Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, four bipartisan former Federal Emergency Management Agency administrators penned a letter to congressional leaders last week imploring lawmakers to make long-term changes to the program. The group includes Obama-era FEMA chief Craig Fugate and Brock Long, who resigned the post earlier this year. Among other things, they suggest a requirement that sellers disclose flood risk to potential homebuyers and a low-interest loan program to help buy out owners of properties that are repeatedly flooded. Especially in a time when losses from natural disasters and flood events are ballooning, it doesn’t make sense for the federal government to keep paying to rebuild in flood zones, they wrote. “By incentivizing Americans to live in vulnerable areas without taking steps to mitigate the risk, the NFIP gives property owners a false sense of security,” they wrote. “In the absence of reforms, costs in taxpayer dollars and lives lost will only get worse.”

National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On May 31, 2019, the President signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to June 14, 2019. Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP by no later than 11:59 pm on June 14, 2019.

FEMA and Congress have never failed to honor the flood insurance contracts in place with NFIP policyholders. Should the NFIP’s authorization lapse, FEMA would still have authority to ensure the payment of valid claims with available funds. However, FEMA would stop selling and renewing policies for millions of properties in communities across the nation. Nationwide, the National Association of Realtors estimates that a lapse might impact approximately 40,000 home sale closings per month.

NFIP reauthorization is an opportunity for Congress to take bold steps to reduce the complexity of the program and strengthen the NFIP’s financial framework so that the program can continue helping individuals and communities take the critical step of securing flood insurance. The level of damage from the 2017 hurricanes makes it abundantly clear that FEMA needs a holistic plan to ready the Nation for managing the cost of catastrophic flooding under the NFIP.
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Previously reported – June 2019
House Panel Approves Bill Overhauling Federal Flood Insurance
Bipartisan bill aims to spur private flood insurance and lower costs for lower-income homeowners

Lawmakers in the House advanced a bipartisan plan to overhaul the federal flood-insurance program, which has struggled to keep pace with record disaster payouts in recent years.

The bill, approved unanimously Wednesday by the House Financial Services Committee, aims to change the financial stakes that people in flood-prone areas face when shopping for insurance. The Midwest has been hit particularly hard by flooding this spring, as several states in the Farm Belt suffer from the wettest year on record. The legislation seeks to spur private flood insurance and reduce costs for lower-income policyholders. It also would require the government to make sure more properties that need coverage are identified on updated flood-zone maps. The plan backed by Democrats and Republicans on the committee would extend the National Flood Insurance Program for another five years. It now goes to the full House and must also pass the Senate. The program has operated since 2017 under a series of temporary extensions passed by Congress, the latest of which ends in September. “This has put our communities and housing market at risk,” House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) said. “We’ve worked very hard to give consideration to the concerns on both sides of the aisle.”

 Rep. Patrick McHenry (R., N.C.) said the bill will “not only provide long-term certainty to [federal flood insurance] but will modernize the program to ensure it has the tools it needs to perform its functions.” Federal flood insurance, offered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, was created more than 50 years ago because private insurers were unwilling to risk catastrophic flood losses. Recent extreme weather events such as Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017 put so much financial pressure on the program that Congress took the unprecedented step of canceling its debt, writing off $16 billion that year. The flood program had $20.5 billion in debt as of September 2018. The bill doesn’t forgive any additional debt, a move Ms. Waters had championed. But it could be the first step by Congress to overhaul flood insurance and provide a longer-term extension for the program—two measures that have eluded lawmakers since 2012. The deal would create a pilot program that provides discounts for premium rates paid by low-income households, ensuring they don’t exceed 2% of the local median income. The bill also would end surcharges enacted by Congress in 2014, including premium increases of $250 for vacation homes.

 It would appropriate $500 million in annual funding for flood-zone mapping and expand mapping to all areas of the U.S. FEMA would be required to use new mapping technologies, such as a pulsed laser-based method called Lidar, or light detection and ranging. In a move that could give private flood insurers a boost, the plan would allow property owners to switch between public and private flood insurance without losing subsidies available to them under the federal plan. For instance, property owners would be able to reinstate lower rates that were locked in when the government said they were subject to higher flood risk. They could also get reimbursed for overlapping public coverage held while they switch over to a private plan. The bill is the latest move by policy makers to jump start a private market for flood insurance. Banking regulators earlier this year said lenders as of July must accept private flood-insurance policies, in addition to the government-backed program. The bill’s prospects are uncertain in the Senate, where Republicans and Democrats have panned it. Republican senators from Louisiana—Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy—said it doesn’t go far enough to cut costs for policyholders. Mr. Cassidy in a statement said it “lacks reforms needed to ensure the program is sustainable and that families won’t be hit with drastic premium increases.” . .
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FEMA looks at flood insurance program changes
With the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season officially underway as of June 1, coastal residents should be aware of updates to the National Flood Insurance Program that will change how the Federal Emergency Management Agency calculates flood risk and insurance policy pricing. FEMA announced in March it is redesigning its flood risk rating system to deliver insurance rates that more accurately reflect a property’s unique risk of flooding. The effort has been dubbed “Risk Rating 2.0,” and the new rates will be announced next April and go into effect Oct. 1, 2020. The change could lead to higher insurance rates for some policyholders and lower rates for others, depending on an individual property’s updated flood risk calculation. Under the new system, properties at the highest risk of flooding will generally see higher insurance rates and lower-risk properties may see a lower rate, but FEMA says it is too early in the process to know for certain which policyholders will see an increase and which will see a decrease. Under Risk Rating 2.0, FEMA will take data from a variety of sources to develop a comprehensive understanding of flood risk, according to the agency. Data sources include existing FEMA flood maps, National Flood Insurance Program policies and claims, U.S. Geographical Survey data, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Sea, Lake and Overhead Surges from Hurricanes model data, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers data sets and information from third-party flood models. In addition to raw data, FEMA will take into account factors such as type of flood, distance away from the coast or other flooding source and cost to rebuild when determining new rates. By reflecting costs to rebuild, for example, owners of lower-valued properties will not pay as much for flood insurance as their higher-valued counterparts even if both properties have the same risk of flooding. With Risk Rating 2.0, FEMA also plans to offer mitigation credits to help incentivize risk reduction efforts and reduce the cost of future flooding events. The program will initially offer credits for three mitigation efforts: installing flood openings; elevating onto posts, piles and piers; or elevating equipment and machinery above the lowest floor.

FEMA says the risk calculation methodology currently in place was developed in the 1970s and has barely been updated over the years, even as technology has evolved to be more precise. Currently, insurance rates are based predominately on the Flood Insurance Rate Map and base flood elevations. The National Flood Insurance Program is federally-backed and administered by FEMA to provide flood insurance to homeowners, renters and business owners as most standard insurance policies do not cover losses from flood. According to FEMA, floods are the most common and most destructive type of natural disaster in the United States, but the majority of home and business owners do not possess flood insurance. In conjunction with the NFIP, FEMA maintains a database of community flood hazard maps that help inform floodplain management policies. The flood maps, which are updated periodically, will still be used to assess risk calculation, but they will no longer be the primary source of risk rating. Even as major changes are coming to the NFIP, there are some questions about the long-term viability of the program, which is about $20 billion in debt. On Thursday, President Donald Trump signed into law a $19.1 billion disaster aid package that includes a temporary extension of NFIP until the end of September as lawmakers deliberate how to reform the program. In addition, FEMA recently announced it will soon publicly release about 50 million NFIP records as part of an initiative known as OpenFEMA to improve transparency within the agency and the flood insurance program. The agency said those records will be available for viewing on the website fema.gov/openfema by mid-June. “We believe this will provide transparency, reduce complexity for public data requests, improve how our stakeholders interact with and understand our program, all without  consumer privacy,” FEMA chief executive David Maurstad said in a statement about the data. According to FEMA, flood insurance policyholders in North Carolina received average payments of $40,000 after Hurricane Florence for flood claims. The average annual cost of an NFIP policy for homeowners is about $700. A single-family home can be insured up to a maximum of $250,000, not including contents coverage, which can be purchased separately and covers up to $100,000. Renters can cover contents up to $100,000, and non-residential property owners can insure their structure up to $500,000 and contents up to $500,000. FEMA encourages home and business owners to purchase flood insurance before the hurricane season begins, or as soon as possible, because it takes 30 days for a policy to take effect.

 Now that the Atlantic hurricane season is underway, FEMA offers other tips to stay safe this year, including the following:
• Create an emergency communication plan with your family. This plan spells out how everyone will contact each other, where to go and how to get back together.
• Build an emergency kit. Keep it ready at home, at work and in the car.
• Know your community’s evacuation plan, evacuation routes and how to receive alerts.
• Stay informed about current conditions. Listen to local officials and evacuation orders.
• Download an emergency weather app on your phone.
• Have backup power for your phone. Purchase a weather radio.
• Keep all important documents in a waterproof container to take with you if you evacuate.

Ready.gov/hurricane and ReadyNC.org provide helpful information on how to plan.
For more information on the NFIP, visit FloodSmart.gov or call 800-427-4661.
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National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On June 6, 2019, the President signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to September 30, 2019.
Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP by no later than 11:59 pm on September 30, 2019.

FEMA and Congress have never failed to honor the flood insurance contracts in place with NFIP policyholders. Should the NFIP’s authorization lapse, FEMA would still have authority to ensure the payment of valid claims with available funds. However, FEMA would stop selling and renewing policies for millions of properties in communities across the nation. Nationwide, the National Association of Realtors estimates that a lapse might impact approximately 40,000 home sale closings per month.

NFIP reauthorization is an opportunity for Congress to take bold steps to reduce the complexity of the program and strengthen the NFIP’s financial framework so that the program can continue helping individuals and communities take the critical step of securing flood insurance. The level of damage from recent catastrophic storms makes it clear that FEMA needs a holistic plan to ready the Nation for managing the cost of catastrophic flooding under the NFIP. Flood insurance – whether purchased from the NFIP or through private carriers – is the best way for homeowners, renters, business, and communities to financially protect themselves from losses caused by floods.
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Previously reported – October 2019
Gillibrand Urges Senate to Reauthorize National Flood Insurance Program Immediately
The National Flood Insurance Program is set to expire at the end of this month
With the National Flood Insurance Program set to expire at the end of September, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) Tuesday urged Senate leadership, via a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), chairman of the Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs, to extend the NFIP without delay and to ensure that any legislation includes her reforms to fix the current broken system and make flood insurance policies more affordable for New Yorkers. Gillibrand helped write the bipartisan National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2019, which would extend the NFIP for five years and fix the problems plaguing the beleaguered program. The NFIP Re Act of 2019 was introduced in the Senate earlier this summer, but no vote has been taken on the measure.

 The NFIP Re Act of 2019 would:

  • Place protections against sudden rate shocks for policy holders and implement regulations for Federal Emergency Management Agency’s new rating methodology.
  • Provide vouchers for homeowners and renters if their flood insurance premium causes their housing costs to exceed 30 percent of the Adjusted Gross Income.
  • Freeze interest payments on the NFIP debt while reinvesting savings towards mitigation efforts to restore the program to solvency and reduce future borrowing.
  • Provide robust funding levels for cost-effective investments in mitigation, which have a large return on investment and are the most effective way to reduce flood risk, Gillibrand said.
  • Increase the maximum limit for Increased Cost of Compliance coverage and expand ICC coverage eligibility to encourage more proactive mitigation before natural disasters.
  • Authorize funding for Light Detection and Ranging technology, which would help create more accurate mapping of flood risk across the country, reducing confusion and generating better data.
  • Place limits on profits for private insurance companies; Write Your Own compensation policies would be capped at the rate that FEMA pays to service its own policies.
  • Create new oversight measures for insurance companies and vendors and provide FEMA with greater authority to terminate contractors that have a track record of abuse.
  • Fundamentally reform the claims process to level the playing field for policyholders during appeal or litigation, ban aggressive legal tactics preventing homeowners from filing legitimate claims, hold FEMA to strict deadlines so that homeowners get quick and fair payments, and end FEMA’s reliance on outside legal counsel from expensive for-profit entities.
  • Provide for increased training and certification of agents and adjusters to reduce mistakes and improve the customer experience.

“My constituents across the State of New York desperately need this bipartisan, common-sense bill, from families still struggling to rebuild from Superstorm Sandy on Long Island to low-income homeowners in Syracuse who are struggling to keep up with rising premiums they cannot afford,” Gillibrand wrote in her Tuesday missive to McConnell and Crapo. “I urge you to make reauthorizing and reforming the NFIP a priority for this Congress and seize the opportunity to achieve a real bipartisan legislative accomplishment that will profoundly help millions of Americans.”
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National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On September 27, 2019, the President signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to November 21, 2019. Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP by no later than 11:59 pm on November 21, 2019.

FEMA and Congress have never failed to honor the flood insurance contracts in place with NFIP policyholders. Should the NFIP’s authorization lapse, FEMA would still have authority to ensure the payment of valid claims with available funds. However, FEMA would stop selling and renewing policies for millions of properties in communities across the nation. Nationwide, the National Association of Realtors estimates that a lapse might impact approximately 40,000 home sale closings per month.

NFIP reauthorization is an opportunity for Congress to take bold steps to reduce the complexity of the program and strengthen the NFIP’s financial framework so that the program can continue helping individuals and communities take the critical step of securing flood insurance. The level of damage from recent catastrophic storms makes it clear that FEMA needs a holistic plan to ready the Nation for managing the cost of catastrophic flooding under the NFIP.
Flood insurance – whether purchased from the NFIP or through private carriers – is the best way for homeowners, renters, business, and communities to financially protect themselves from losses caused by floods.
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Gen X

GenX

Holden Beach Newsletter
Chemours has issued a press release announcing that the company will take measures to eliminate byproduct GenX wastewater emissions from its Fayetteville site.
Click here to view the release.

In order to keep citizens informed, Brunswick County has established a website to share information about GenX as they learn it. You can find this page at www.brunswickcountync.gov/genx. The website contains a FAQ section that they update as they learn additional information (or receive additional questions), links to all their press releases and links to other resources like information from NCDEQ. There is also a link where citizens can go to sign up to receive email updates on the topic.


The Public Information Officer for Brunswick County announced that the County has taken legal action against DuPont and Chemours for contaminating the Cape Fear River.

10.31.2017
Statement from Brunswick County
The filing of formal legal action against Chemours and DuPont represents another crucial step in protecting our public drinking water supply. It sends a clear message that Brunswick County will simply not stand for the discharge of emerging or unregulated chemicals into our public drinking water supply. Let us be clear…we will ensure that any company that threatens this vital resource is held responsible. Furthermore, our litigation team is consulting the nation’s leading experts to determine the best long-term water testing and treatment methods for the entire county. As part of that, we will ensure that the costs for doing so do not fall upon the rate payers, but upon those dumping the unregulated chemicals in the water.
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Previously reported – January 2018
Top Story of 2017: GenX revelation leads to outrage, action
Discovery of toxic contaminant in region’s drinking water raises host of questions, concerns and prompts calls for statewide rules
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GenX update: So where do things stand now?
Much of the talk over the toxic contaminant and other emerging compounds might have moved to Raleigh, but there are still plenty of unresolved issues outside of the General Assembly
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Previously reported – February 2018
Lawmakers: Chemours should pay for NC GenX efforts
Many agree companies such as Chemours should pay to deal with problems caused by their pollution. But, actually getting money from polluters and providing it to state regulators, particularly for day-to-day costs such as staff and equipment, might be more difficult than it first appears. Earlier this month, the N.C. House unanimously passed a bill that would have provided $2.3 million in state funds, largely for equipment and personnel, to address emerging contaminants such as GenX. The state Senate promptly declined to take it up. Explaining his colleagues’ move, Senate President Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said in part that the bill “leaves North Carolina taxpayers holding the bag for expenditures that should be paid for by the company responsible for the pollution.”
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Previously reported – April 2018
Wilmington officials ask NC to shut down GenX production
County officials are asking that the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) shut down operations that result in the production of chemicals like GenX, which have been discharged into the Cape Fear River and discovered in Wilmington-area drinking water systems.
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Previously reported – June 2018
EPA to set GenX toxicity value
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will develop a toxicity value for the potential carcinogen GenX and related compounds, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced at a national leadership summit in Washington Tuesday.
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NC tells Chemours to keep GenX out of air, groundwater
DEQ filed proposed court order Monday that would require Chemours to reduce air emissions and address contamination caused by GenX around the Fayetteville Works facility
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Previously reported – July 2018
NC tells Chemours to keep GenX out of air, groundwater
DEQ filed proposed court order Monday that would require Chemours to reduce air emissions and address contamination caused by GenX around the Fayetteville Works facility
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Southern Environmental Law Center files lawsuit calling for DEQ action on GenX
The Southern Environmental Law Center filed a lawsuit in New Hanover County Superior Court calling on the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to use its authority to require the Chemours Company to immediately stop all discharge of GenX and other chemically related compounds from its Fayetteville Works facility.

“The state needs to stop immediately Chemours’ toxic pollution of the air and water that families and communities from Fayetteville to Wilmington depend on,” said Geoff Gisler, senior attorney with the SELC. “Every day that goes by, Chemours puts more toxic pollution into the air and water that accumulates in our rivers, land, and groundwater. Chemours’ harmful pollution must end now.”

According to a Friday afternoon news release from the SELC, on June 15, DEQ denied a request from Cape Fear River Watch asking DEQ to require Chemours to stop pollution at its Fayetteville facility.     

 SELC argues in the lawsuit that DEQ has the authority and obligation to force Chemours to stop releasing perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances into the water and air. “The people of North Carolina depend on DEQ to protect our health and safety in times of emergency,” said Cape Fear River Watch Board of Directors President Dana Sargent. “This is one of those times.”
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Previously reported – August 2018
CFPUA: Filtering GenX can be done, but will cost customers
The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) may move to spend $46 million to upgrade the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant to filter — as much as possible — contaminants like GenX and other material that the Wilmington plant can’t filter from water drawn from the Cape Fear River.
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Previously reported – September 2018
Lawyers file suit against Chemours over GenX
Southern Environmental Law Center lawyers are suing The Chemours Co. on behalf of Cape Fear River Watch.

Chemours is the maker of GenX, the contaminant found in the Cape Fear River, which provides the raw water the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and the Brunswick County Utilities Department use for drinking water. The lawsuit was filed in Wilmington’s U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina Southern Division against Chemours for air and water pollution with toxic perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs), including GenX, from the Chemours Fayetteville Works Facility in violation of the Clean Water Act and Toxic Substances Control Act. “Chemours’ decades-long contamination of North Carolina’s environment must stop to prevent more harm. The families and communities who drink from, swim in and fish on the Cape Fear River deserve healthy, clean water,” Senior Attorney Geoff Gisler said.
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Previously reported – October 2018
CFPUA forges ahead with GenX solutions
The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) moved forward Tuesday with both short- and long-term plans to remove chemicals such as GenX from its customers’ drinking water.
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Previously reported – November 2018
Chemours to pay $12 million fine as part of GenX agreement
Proposed consent order requires Chemours to limit emissions at Fayetteville Works while also conducting studies

 If approved by a Bladen County Superior Court Judge, the agreement would require the company to limit the discharges of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) such as GenX, while simultaneously providing water or treatment equipment to residents whose water shows high levels of PFAS. Chemours also agreed to pay a $12 million civil penalty that, if unaltered, would be the highest fine ever collected by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. The company will also pay $1 million in investigative costs, with additional fees built into the agreement such as $200,000 if it fails to reduce annual emissions by 82 percent from 2017 levels beginning Oct. 6, $350,000 if it fails to reduce emissions by 92 percent from 2017 levels beginning Dec. 31 and $1 million if it fails to reduce emissions by 99 percent from 2017 levels from 2020 on. In a statement, Michael Regan, the secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, said, “People deserve access to clean drinking water, and this order is a significant step in our ongoing effort to protect North Carolina communities and the environment.”
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Previously reported – December 2018
NCDEQ does all it plans to do on lower Cape Fear GenX contaminants
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has done all it intends to do to address GenX and other per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs) in the lower Cape Fear River, based on answers provided in a Nov. 29 media conference call. The agency agreed Nov. 21 with The Chemours Co. and Cape Fear River Watch on a proposed consent order to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs), including GenX, that contaminated wells and the Cape Fear River, the source of drinking water for Brunswick County, from Chemours’ Fayetteville Works facility. The proposal would require Chemours to continue capturing all process wastewater from operations at the Fayetteville Works facility for off-site disposal until a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit is issued that authorizes wastewater discharge. It focuses on addressing contamination of well water and GenX compound air emissions near the plant, with Chemours required to connect well owners to water systems or install and maintain under-sink reverse osmosis drinking water systems if they have combined PFAs levels above 70 parts per trillion or any individual PFAs compound above 10 parts per trillion.

DEQ Secretary for Environment Sheila Holman was asked why no other equipment or resources were made available to residents in the lower Cape Fear area. She said the DEQ and public pressure already forced Chemours to take steps to keep GenX out of the Cape Fear River and then the company stopped all wastewater discharge. “We will continue to monitor it,” Holman said. Holman said the proposed consent order was informed by the original investigation into GenX in the Cape Fear River from the Chemours discharge site at its Fayetteville Works plant. From there the DEQ further investigated PFAs in the groundwater, wells and air emissions. When asked about concerns the consent order doesn’t help residents downstream of the plant, Holman said the DEQ addressed those communities when it began requiring Chemours to collect wastewater and emissions to stop PFAs from entering the wastewater stream. “A lot has been geared to address the release of PFAs into the environment to protect those near the facility as well as downstream,” she said, adding the company took steps to stop Gen X from entering the Cape Fear River through other means like air emissions and groundwater. “We’ve tried to close these loops. We have Chemours monitoring the outfall. We worked hard to address all the ways (PFAS) get into the surface water. They are still trucking the wastewater out.”
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Why did CFPUA blast a proposed consent order between N.C. DEQ, Chemours and Cape Fear River Watch?
State regulators are not looking out for the needs of residents or utilities downstream of Chemours’ Fayetteville Works facility, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) alleged in a pair of motions filed Thursday in Bladen County Superior Court.
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Previously reported – January 2019
Chemours promises to reduce pollutants, but concerns persist downstream
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Previously reported – February 2019
EPA hits Chemours with notice of violation at Fayetteville Works
Chemours failed in several instances to inform federal regulators what chemicals it was using at its Fayetteville Works facility and what they were being used for, violating the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), according to a notice of violation the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued Wednesday. The notice stemmed from an inspection that a team of EPA staff and contractors conducted at Chemours’ site June 28 and 29, 2017, weeks after the StarNews first reported researchers had discovered GenX chemicals emanating from the Fayetteville Works facility in Wilmington’s finished drinking water. The EPA also wants to know when Chemours became aware that GenX was being released into the environment.
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Updated consent order requires Chemours to consider GenX in river
Chemours would have to analyze GenX and other chemicals in the Cape Fear River sediment and measure chemicals’ levels at raw water intakes, according to a revised consent order between the chemical giant, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Cape Fear River Watch. In Wilmington, officials and utilities expressed concerns that the original agreement — released Thanksgiving eve — required Chemours to provide water treatment technology to homes around the Fayetteville Works plant while leaving downstream utilities to foot the bill for ongoing contamination. Both the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) and New Hanover County passed resolutions calling for the order to provide additional protections for downstream residents. According to a document prepared by DEQ, changes to the order include requiring Chemours to provide an “accelerated” plan reducing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination in the Cape Fear River, to submit monthly reports to regulators about PFAS emissions at the plant, and to update the corrective plan as new technology becomes available.
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Previously reported – March 2019
Judge signs GenX consent order
Agreement with DEQ, Cape Fear River Watch means Chemours will need to meet PFAS emissions and water contamination benchmarks
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Previously reported – April 2019
Proposed Gen X-related bill would target Chemours, form task force
Ambitious new legislation would set new standards for Gen X and other similar compounds in the state’s water supply. If passed, the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) would be required to form a task force to analyze and identify pollutants found in ground and surface waters, air, soil, dust, and food within the Lower Cape Fear River Basin. Cumberland, Bladen, Columbus, Brunswick, and New Hanover Counties all fall within that area. The measure would require Chemours and other polluting companies to be named and held financially responsible for replacing the tainted water supply with a permanent replacement water source. Additionally, polluting companies would be required to fund periodic maintenance for the filtration system used for the clean water supply. A chief sponsor of the bill, Sen. Harper Peterson believes that Gen-X is responsible for an elevated rate of thyroid cancer, liver cancer, and other illnesses in the Cape Fear region than in the rest of the state. The bill would require $270 million for funding.
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Previously reported – June 2019
Two years later, where do we stand on GenX?
It has been two years since news broke that the chemical compound known as GenX was found in the drinking water of thousands of people in the Cape Fear region. This unknown contaminant sparked fear and outrage across the area. Two years and countless meetings, protests, water samples, and lawsuits later, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority says the water is far safer to drink than it was before GenX started making headlines. “It’s been two years but we’ve accomplished a lot in two years,” said Jim Flechtner, the executive director of CFPUA. “We’ve seen the levels of these contaminants produce not only in the river, but also in the finished water that we are drinking. We’re taking steps so that our plant can filter these compounds from our drinking water very effectively.” After calls from the community and political leaders, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has been forced to hold Chemours, the company responsible for dumping the chemical into the Cape Fear River, responsible. “We’re taking legal action against Chemours because we believe our customers shouldn’t pay for this. And we’re also working with the state because the real answer to this is that these contaminants shouldn’t be in the environment to begin with,” Flechtner said. Flechtner said the true answer to the ongoing problems is to have proper regulation and proper enforcement on a state level. Despite that, he said, CFPUA tests the drinking water before and after it is treated on a weekly basis. “Our water is cleaner than it used to be. We understand where these contaminants are coming from, and we’ve taken steps to stop it. We’re also holding those accountable through legal action who have put these contaminants in the environment. Two years ago, the levels of GenX and other toxic chemicals were estimated to be about 130,000 parts per trillion. Currently, levels of GenX in the river are measuring at 150 parts per trillion, Flechtner said. “Because of some of our work at our plant, we’re reducing that to about 60 parts per trillion in the finished water. So levels are down considerable. They have never been that high to begin with, but the good news is we’ve been able to bring them down,” he said. Throughout the past two years, community activists have attended forums and meetings, demanding clean water. Those efforts are finally paying off. “Our community is very engaged and that’s a great thing. The more active our customers are the more active our community is, the better results we’re going to get. So it’s encouraging to see all the grassroots efforts, the political efforts, regulatory efforts to bring the best water for this community. So while our focus is changed, I think we all understand where these compounds are coming from, from the upstream discharges and holding them accountable and responsible for what’s happened is important. And it’s very rewarding for me to see so many people in our community working on this issue,” Flechtner said. In the next two years, the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant will receive a granular activated carbon filter to remove more GenX and other contaminants from the drinking water. “We’re finishing up design on the granular activated carbon filters we added to our Sweeney Water Treatment Plant that will bring these levels down even further. So the water will be significantly cleaner. And it’s another barrier of protection. We can’t rely on these upstream companies to tell us what they’re putting in the river,” he said.
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Brunswick County sees spike in ‘forever chemical,’ GenX still below ‘health goal’
Brunswick County’s raw water saw a spike in the level of one member of the PFAS family in its raw water, while the levels of other related chemicals – including GenX – remain under state and federal ‘health advisories.’ PFAS are a family of chemicals sharing similar carbon-fluorine bonds; they are used in a host of industrial and commercial applications including non-stick cookware, fire-fighting agents, and food packaging, capitalizing on their ability to repel grease and water. There are over 4,700 members of the family and only limited testing has been done on a few PFAS chemicals, including GenX. However, several PFAS chemicals have been linked to cancer. According to Brunswick County, the most recent results of PFAS testing in the raw water from the county’s water treatment plant show elevated levels of one main PFAS chemical, known as PFMOAA (Perfluoro-2-methoxyacetic acid). The testing, performed by the North Carolina Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance Testing (PFAST) Network, was done on a sample taken from Brunswick County’s Leland plant on May 29, 2019.
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Previously reported – October 2019
Chemours vows to become ‘best in the world’ at controlling PFAS
During a tour of Chemours last week, plant manager Brian Long stopped near a maze of pipes to explain new carbon adsorption systems that the company says are reducing airborne emissions of GenX and other potentially harmful fluorochemicals by 92 percent from 2017 levels. A few minutes later, Long stopped again, this time at a construction site surrounding a giant metal tower of pipes, chambers and supports that, by year’s end, is anticipated to become an operable, $100 million thermal oxidizer. Long said the oxidizer will destroy 99 percent of all per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — or PFAS — keeping them from becoming airborne and leaving the plant’s boundaries.

Chemours has no choice but to meet the Dec. 31 deadline. It’s specified in a consent order entered in February between the company, the state and the environmental group Cape Fear River Watch. Construction crews are now working in two shifts to meet the deadline, Long said. Chemours has been under fire since June 2017, when the Wilmington Star-News reported that a potentially cancer-causing PFAS chemical called GenX had fouled the drinking water for an estimated 250,000 people who draw their water from the Cape Fear River downstream of the Chemours plant in Bladen County.
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Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners Insurance Policy

Previously reported – September 2018

Homeowners insurance to increase by 5.5 percent on the coast
Following months of negotiation, the N.C. Department of Insurance and the N.C. Rate Bureau have settled on an average statewide increase in homeowners insurance of 4.8 percent. In coastal counties, that increase was capped at 5.5 percent.
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Insurance Commissioner Causey settles homeowners’ insurance rate dispute
Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey announced today the N.C. Department of Insurance has ended the legal dispute with the North Carolina Rate Bureau on its proposal for an 18.7 percent homeowners’ insurance rate increase. Commissioner Causey has negotiated an almost 14 percent lower rate for an average 4.8 percent increase statewide. “I have negotiated a rate that will have minimal impact on the coast yet keep the state’s insurance companies financially sound,” said Commissioner Causey. The 4.8 percent increase will vary according to territory with a cap of 5.5 percent statewide instead of the 25 percent bump on the coast initially proposed by the NCRB. The agreement also covers insurance for tenants and condominiums, which is capped at 12 percent. This rate settlement will save consumers approximately $293 million in the first year alone, compared to the NCRB’s proposed increase.

The NCRB is separate from the NCDOI and is made up of insurance industry representatives. The Rate Bureau filed for the proposed 18.7 percent rate increase November 17, 2017, claiming the increase was necessary because of the increased costs stemming from tornado, severe thunderstorm, and windstorm/hail damage. Commissioner Causey had concerns over the initial filing and set a July 23, 2018, hearing date for the case to be decided if an agreement couldn’t be reached. Over the last several months, the Department and the NCRB have been in litigation while trying to settle the case without the necessity of a long, expensive hearing. The last time homeowners saw an insurance rate increase was in 2012. At that time, the NCRB case was settled for an average statewide increase of 7 percent. The increase will take effect October 1, 2018.
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Insurance commissioner OKs rate increases
Brunswick County home insurance customers will see rates increase in 2018 after the North Carolina Department of Insurance announced a settlement with the North Carolina Rate Bureau. Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey said negotiations that began after he rejected the bureau’s proposed statewide 18.7 percent homeowners’ insurance rate increase ended with an agreement for an average 4.8 percent increase statewide. For Brunswick County, the bureau called for a 25 percent increase on homeowners insurance rates on or near the coast and 23.7 percent everywhere else, plus a renters and condominium owners homeowners insurance jump of 40 percent. Causey’s announcement said the coastal area’s rate increase will capped at 5.5 percent. Causey said more than 9,000 public comments factored into his decision to refuse the rate increase proposal. The increase will take effect Oct. 1, Causey said. Causey said the last time homeowners saw an insurance rate increase was in 2012 when the bureau’s case was settled for an average statewide increase of 7 percent.
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Brunswick County includes three North Carolina Department of Insurance homeowners territories: 120, 140 and 160. All three are designated for homeowners insurance rate increase caps of 5.5 percent and tenant and condominium owners insurance caps at 12 percent, according to an agreement state Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey made with the North Carolina Rate Bureau.

Previously reported – February 2019
NC Rate Bureau seeks rate hike
Barely four months after one insurance rate hike, the Rate Bureau is back in front of the North Carolina Department of Insurance with its hand out for more money. To counter that move, the The League of Women Voters® of Dare County and Outer Banks Association of REALTORS® CEO Willo Kelly hosted a room full of people at the Kill Devil Hills Town Hall to provide details behind a December 20 request to raise North Carolina homeowners insurance rates an average of 17.4 percent. Kelly then pointed out that there really has not been enough time to thoroughly evaluate the adequacy of the new rates that went into effect just four and a half month ago. “

North Carolina law (G.S. 58-36-10) sets out a process for setting rates:
.       • Rates or loss costs shall not be excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory.
      • Consideration may be given to the experience of property insurance business           .         during the most recent five-year period for which that experience is available.
.       •
Modeled hurricane losses from more than one hurricane model is required.
.       •
Due consideration shall be given to a reasonable margin for underwriting                         profit and to contingencies.

In North Carolina, the Rate Bureau acts as one insurance company representing all insurance companies in the state. The NC Department of Insurance makes the final decision on the maximum rate that can be used. After the public comment period, North Carolina Department of Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey can do nothing and the proposed rates will become effective October 1, 2019 or deny the filing and call for a hearing. Causey could also negotiate a settlement with Rate Bureau to come up with a different rate. A Public Comment Forum will be held to listen to public input on the rate increase request by the Rate Bureau from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on February 26 in the Second Floor Hearing Room of the N.C. Department of Insurance in the Albemarle Building, 325 N. Salisbury St. in Raleigh.

The filing request can be found in its entirety by going to: http://www.ncdoi.com/PC/Filing_Search.aspx

Search by SERFF number
.     1)
Begin Search
.     2) Accept terms
.     3) Enter the SERFF tracking number NCRI-131761557 in the appropriate field.
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Causey disagrees with proposed homeowners rate increase, sets hearing date
North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has set Sept. 4, 2019, as the hearing date for the North Carolina Rate Bureau’s proposed statewide average 17.4 percent homeowners insurance rate increase. “There is a pervasive lack of documentation, explanation and justification of both the data used, as well as the procedures and methodologies utilized in the filing,” Commissioner Causey said in his hearing notice to the NCRB. “The proposed rates appear to be excessive and unfairly discriminatory.” The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. in the Second Floor Hearing Room in the Albemarle Building, 325 N. Salisbury St. Raleigh. The hearing will be held unless the N.C. Department of Insurance and NCRB are able to negotiate a settlement before that date. State law gives the Insurance Commissioner 45 days to issue an order once the hearing concludes. Once the order is issued, the NCRB has the right to appeal the decision to the N.C. Court of Appeals. A Court of Appeals order could then be appealed to the N.C. Supreme Court. The Department of Insurance and NCRB can settle the proposed rate increase at any time during litigation.

The NCRB filed the average statewide 17.4 percent increase on Dec. 20, 2018. The filing covers insurance for residential property, tenants and condominiums at varying rates around the state. Under the NCRB proposal, the biggest increases would be felt along the coast. The NCRB has requested certain areas in western North Carolina receive small rate decreases. These areas include Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson and Macon counties. Rates for tenants and condominium insurance would see proposed decreases in other counties. The NCRB represents insurance companies that write the state’s homeowners, auto and workers compensation policies. It is a separate entity from the Department of Insurance. The public comment period for the proposed rate hike remains open until February 26th.

There are three ways to comment:
1) A public comment forum will be held to listen to public input on the Rate Bureau’s rate increase request at the N.C. Department of Insurance’s Second Floor Hearing Room on Feb. 26 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Department of Insurance is in the Albemarle Building, 325 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh, N.C.

2) Emailed public comments should be sent by Feb. 26 to 2018Homeowners@ncdoi.gov.

3) Written public comments should be mailed to Tricia Ford, Paralegal Administrator, to be received by Feb. 26 and addressed to 1201 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1201.

All public comments will be shared with the N.C. Rate Bureau. The last Rate Bureau homeowners rate filing was in 2017. That year, the NCRB requested an average 18.9 percent statewide increase in homeowners insurance rates, but Insurance Commissioner Causey settled, instead, on an average 4.8 percent increase.
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Sounding an Alarm on Homeowner’s Insurance
Homeowners on the barrier island portions of Dare, Currituck and Hyde Counties could face as much as a 30% hike in their insurance rates under a North Carolina Rate Bureau filing, Outer Banks Association of Realtors Chief Executive Officer Willo Kelly warned an audience of about 30 people at a League of Women Voters-sponsored forum on February 13th. Kelly, a longtime watchdog and advocate for the region when it comes to property insurance concerns, said that the N.C. Department of Insurance (DOI) will consider the Rate Bureau’s requested increase following the close of the public comment period on Feb. 26. Rates would go into effect October 1st. At the conclusion of the public comment period, DOI Commissioner Mike Causey can approve the rate filing, do nothing – which, in essence puts the proposed rate into effect — or deny the filing all together. Often, as was the case last year, a settlement agreement is reached between Causey and the Rate Bureau. North Carolina is one of the few states that has an elected insurance commissioner and is the only state that has a Rate Bureau, which is made up of all the companies in the state that are collecting insurance.
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Previously reported – March 2019
N.C. Rate Bureau asks for 17.4 percent rate increase for homeowners’ insurance
The North Carolina Rate Bureau has requested the N.C. Department of Insurance increase homeowners’ insurance rates 17.4 percent effective Oct. 1, 2019. The N.C. Rate Bureau represents the state’s insurance companies and is a separate entity from the N.C. Department of Insurance. The Rate Bureau attests the increase is needed to cover increased losses, hurricane losses and the net cost of reinsurance. Last year, the Rate Bureau requested an 18.9 percent increase in homeowners’ insurance rates, but Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey settled, instead, on an average 4.8 percent rate increase.
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Previously reported – July 2019
Homeowners insurance rate increase hearing date changed
The hearing scheduled for the insurance industry’s proposed statewide average 17.4% homeowners insurance rate increase has been extended one month from Sept. 4 to Wednesday, Oct. 2. Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey says he needs the additional time to review the documents filed by the North Carolina Rate Bureau (NCRB). “There is a pervasive lack of documentation, explanation and justification of both the data used, as well as the procedures and methodologies utilized in the filing,” Causey said. “The proposed rates appear to be excessive and unfairly discriminatory and I want more time to study the data to ensure our consumers are treated fairly.” The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. in the Second Floor Hearing Room in the Albemarle Building, 325 N. Salisbury St. in Raleigh.

The hearing will be held unless the N.C. Department of Insurance and NCRB are able to negotiate a settlement before that date. The Department of Insurance and NCRB can settle the proposed rate increase at any time during litigation. The NCRB represents insurance companies that write the state’s homeowners, auto and workers compensation policies. It is a separate entity from the Department of Insurance. The NCRB filed the average statewide 17.4% increase Dec. 20, 2018. The filing covers insurance for residential property, tenants and condominiums at varying rates around the state. The last Rate Bureau homeowners’ rate filing was in 2017. That year, the NCRB requested an average 18.9% statewide increase in homeowners’ insurance rates, but Causey settled, instead, on an average 4.8% increase.
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Previously reported – September 2019
N.C. Rate Bureau requests rate increase for dwelling policies
The North Carolina Department of Insurance received a dwelling insurance rate filing from the N.C. Rate Bureau on Aug. 14. The N.C. Rate Bureau, which is not part of the Department of Insurance, represents all companies writing property insurance in the state. The NCRB requested a statewide average rate increase of 19.2%, varying by territory, with a requested effective date of July 1, 2020. The filing includes a requested increase of 24.3% in extended (wind) coverage and an increase of 4.6% in fire coverage. The proposed rate increases are capped by territory at 30% for extended coverage and 5% for fire coverage. Dwelling insurance policies are not homeowners’ insurance policies. Dwelling policies are for non-owner-occupied residences of no more than four units, including rental properties, investment properties and other properties that are not occupied full time by the property owner.
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Previously reported – October 2019
Commissioner Causey negotiates settlement on homeowners’, mobile home insurance rates
Costly hearing is canceled
The N.C. Department of Insurance has settled a homeowners’ insurance legal dispute with the North Carolina Rate Bureau, averting a potentially costly administrative battle with insurance companies. This means the hearing scheduled for Oct. 2 is canceled. In addition, Commissioner Mike Causey announced that the Department has also negotiated a settlement with the NCRB on mobile home insurance rates. “I am happy to announce that North Carolina homeowners will save nearly $285 million a year in premium payments compared to what the NCRB had requested,” Commissioner Causey said. “I am also glad the Department of Insurance has avoided a lengthy administrative legal battle which could have cost consumers time and money.”
Homeowners’ insurance
In 2018, the Rate Bureau, which represents companies writing property insurance in North Carolina and is not a part of the N.C. Department of Insurance, proposed a 17.4% statewide overall increase in homeowners’ insurance rates. After studying the data, Commissioner Causey negotiated a settlement for a much smaller rate of an overall statewide increase of 4%. The 4% increase will vary according to territory, with a cap of 10% statewide instead of the 30% cap in some coastal territories initially requested by the NCRB. The highest negotiated rate increase is 9.8% in some coastal territories. The western-most territory in the state will see an average 0.1% decrease. Compared to the rates requested by the NCRB, the settlement means a significant savings for homeowners. For example, Wilmington residents with a $200,000 frame home with a $1,000 deductible would pay an average $400 less a year than had the NCRB’s requested rates gone into effect. Residents for similar homes in Wake and Durham counties would pay an average $120 less. The increase will take effect on new and renewed policies beginning on or after May 1, 2020.
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NC homeowner insurance to rise next spring
North Carolina homeowner insurance rates will go up 4% on average next spring as part of an agreement between the Insurance Department and an entity representing the industry. Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey said the settlement announced Friday means an administrative fight between his office and the North Carolina Rate Bureau ends. A hearing had been set for next week. Causey’s news release says the Rate Bureau, composed of the state’s property insurance writers, initially sought an overall increase of more than 17%. Causey’s office says the highest rate increases would occur in coastal counties as well as in Duplin and Lenoir counties, where lots of flooding occurred during recent hurricanes. Those counties will see increases of 9.8%. Far-western counties like Cherokee and Clay will see a slight decrease.
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To see the rate increase for where you live just click here.

NC Homeowners Territories
Territory                                                          120
Counties Located in this Territory              Beach areas in Brunswick Counties
Rate increase                                                  9.8%