Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 19, 2017

Contact: Brett Hartl, (202) 817-8121,

Republicans Include Sneak Attack on Endangered Species in Disaster Funding Supplemental

WASHINGTON— House Republicans introduced an $81 billion emergency funding supplemental this week that includes a provision that exempts the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from the requirements of the Endangered Species Act. Section 2029 of the legislation introduced by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) would allow FEMA to approve and subsidize risky developments in flood-prone areas even if it destroys critical habitat or kills endangered species like sea turtles, Pacific salmon and Florida key deer.

“This bill would turn FEMA into a disaster-making machine for endangered species,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Rep. Frelinghuysen’s sneak attack on endangered species is shameful, and shows just how far Republicans in Congress will go to advance their anti-wildlife agenda.”

Under current law FEMA must consider and mitigate harm caused by developments from flood-prone areas when it provides subsided insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. In past years the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service have raised concerns when the National Flood Insurance Program has incentivized development inside areas where endangered species are most vulnerable. 

Most recently the Fisheries Services concluded that FEMA’s implementation of its flood insurance program in Oregon and Washington was putting dozens of species of salmon and the Puget Sound killer whale population in jeopardy of extinction. This legislation would allow FEMA to provide flood insurance regardless of the impacts on any endangered species.

“In the bizarre world of House Republicans, it’s endangered species, not climate change, that are the biggest threats to building communities that are resilient to the ever-increasing storms we’re experiencing. This is a sad, new low for them,” said Hartl.

The National Flood Insurance Program is tens of billions of dollars in debt. Congress has continued to write off the program’s debt despite the unsustainable nature of subsidizing development in the most flood-prone and storm-prone areas.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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