FEMA to Ask States to Account for Climate Change in Disaster Plans

Switchboard, the Natural Resources Defense Council staff blog, has published a report on the recently announced changes to FEMA’s Blue Book.

According to Switchboard, FEMA plans to edit its guidelines to require state governments to consider climate change when making their hazard mitigation plans. The article says a revised draft from FEMA is expected to be available to the public as early as summer this year.

The Blue Book, as it is commonly known, is FEMA’s State Multi-Hazard Mitigation Planning Guidance document. It was created to help states understand the mitigation planning regulations found in the Code of Federal Regulations.

The Switchboard article explains that until now, FEMA has not required state governments to consider climate change and its potential impacts when preparing their hazard mitigation plans. These plans are made by governments “in order to assess their risk of natural disasters and to identify and implement actions they can take to reduce those risks”.

NRDC itself played a part in bringing about this change. In 2012, NRDC petitioned FEMA to put in a requirement that states “consider climate change impacts when developing their plans”. Initially FEMA said no, they would not be changing their regulations. However, now, they are embracing NRDC’s suggestion.

FEMA officials told NRDC they have two major goals for this revision:

 

1.) “Making sure states comply with the existing regulatory requirement to consider the risk of future events, including consideration of the effects of climate change on disaster risk.”
The NRDC says FEMA will be helping states increase their preparedness for disasters by ensuring this new requirement is properly enforced.

2.) “Making sure states revise their plans in response to changing conditions.”

 

Although states are required to update their hazard mitigation plans every three years, sometimes that is not enough. Unexpected hazards or natural disasters can point out the flaws in a state’s plan, so it is vital that these plans are regularly updated to reflect the most recent information – including climate change information.

NRDC says they are looking forward to working with FEMA on the new guidance regulations and seeing the revised draft this summer.

“We’re hopeful that it will provide helpful information to the states, empowering and enabling them to better prepare for future disasters,” says NRDC.

 

For more information on the Blue Book, click here: http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/12679?id=3115
To read the original Switchboard blog post, click here: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/rhammer/fema_promises_to_revise_state.html