Over the past three decades, North America has seen a fivefold increase in weather-related natural disasters, with relief spending mirroring this exponential trend. As the population grows, the number of Americans residing in “at risk” areas along the coast, rivers, and in the “fire zone” also continues to rise. In the following The Planning Report interview, Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer explains why our current federal policy on natural disaster recovery is both fiscally unsustainable and life threatening.
Blumenauer suggests the changes in zoning, infrastructure investment, insurance, and taxation that must occur on a national scale in order to ensure a more resilient America better prepared for the climate changes we will inevitably face. The federal government is short-sighted when it comes to disaster relief and is unwilling to take money from the regular budget and devote that to mitigation. "At the same time, when we are investing in mitigation, in resiliency, in things that help make communities less disaster prone and that will unquestionably save three to five dollars or more for each dollar we spend, that comes out of the regular budget. It takes money away from defense, agriculture, and food inspection, and projects large and small."