Should Taxpayers Fund the Rebuilding of Coastal Communities?

In the "Room for Debate" section of The New York Times, five experts debate whether the federal government should continue to subsidize the cost of coastal reconstruction in the aftermath of storms.
November 28, 2012, 7am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Should the federal government stop helping to rebuild properties in areas vulnerable to natural disasters? Would it make sense for the federal and local governments to buy such land, to prevent future loss of homes and lives?" These are among the questions considered by debaters from Taxpayers for Common Sense, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University.

From Steve Ellis, the vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense:

"Politicians miss the point when they grab a megaphone and cry out that we will rebuild. We need to rebuild smarter and better. Not just homes and businesses, but policies, programs and projects, ensuring we aren’t encouraging development in harm’s way....No one is suggesting we move the entire New Jersey seacoast. But we can buy out and encourage mitigation of the most vulnerable properties. Every dollar in mitigation saves four in recovery."

From Ralph B. Everett, president and chief executive of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies:

"But let us also remember that four-fifths of Americans live in counties where natural disasters have been declared in just the past six years. Last year, Hurricane Irene ravaged communities hundreds of miles from the coastline. Should we not rebuild in these communities, as well? Over the past two years, record numbers of tornados have hit in the South. Should we no longer rebuild after a twister hits?...We have to stay focused, above all else, on fundamentally transforming the way we use energy, with policies that spur the markets to promote large-scale energy efficiency and low-carbon, renewable sources of energy."

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Published on Monday, November 26, 2012 in The New York Times
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