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ECC Applauds Bipartisan Bill Increasing Government Preparedness for Extreme Weather

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Washington, DC, July 23, 2015 – Given the importance of economic and environmental resilience to the well-being of low-income communities of color, Emerald Cities Collaborative (ECC) is proud to be an endorsing organization of the bipartisan, revenue-neutral PREPARE Act introduced today by Reps. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) and Leonard Lance (R-N.J.). Their commonsense legislation will enable the federal government to proactively plan and prepare for the grave risks associated with extreme weather at no additional cost to taxpayers. The legislation was first introduced during the 113th Congress.

“We commend the PREPARE Act’s cosponsors for joining together across party lines to address the pressing need for effective weather resilience planning,” said ECC Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Felipe Floresca. “The bill would also improve state and local responses to extreme weather events,” he added. “We urge Congress to act now on this important legislation. 

Extreme weather poses a long-term threat to nearly every region of the United States. In the past four years, there have been 44 separate incidents of extreme weather in 44 states, inflicting a total of $227 billion in damage and resulting in a total of 1,286 deaths.

GAO Pinpoints Risks
In addition to including threats from extreme weather events on its 2015 High Risk List, the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) 2015 High Risk Report found that:

  • The federal government is not well-organized to address the fiscal exposure caused by extreme weather events;
  • There are no programs to monitor and independently validate the effectiveness and sustainability of agency measures to address the challenges posed to federal insurance programs by extreme weather events; and
  • There is no systematic method for distributing information to state and local governments.

In response to these deficiencies, the PREPARE Act builds on recommendations in the GAO’s High Risk Report and, at no expense to taxpayers, institutionalizes executive orders that address agency planning and preparedness for extreme weather. It does so by:

  • Requiring agencies to implement government-wide resilience, preparedness and risk management priorities;
  • Working with local and state planners to identify regional issues and facilitate adoption of resilience, preparedness and risk management best practices; and
  • Establishing a plan to ensure greater coordination among regional efforts.

“Major flooding is a very real concern in my district, as multiple waterways - including the Susquehanna, Lackawanna and Schuylkill Rivers - threaten cities like Scranton and Wilkes-Barre,” said Cartwright.  “However, severe weather is not limited to my region. To confront this issue nationwide, my zero-cost bill requires the federal government to better coordinate their efforts and form comprehensive plans to address the threat posed by extreme weather events.”

“Coordination and preparedness are critical in a natural disaster to protect life and property. This legislation will ensure government agencies are sharing information properly and outlining best practices so lessons learned responding to a disaster in one part of the country can be put to use responding to others across the nation.  I thank Congressman Cartwright for leading on this issue that is very important for our nation and especially our neighboring states,” Lance added.

ECC is among more than 45 organizations, businesses and other stakeholders supporting the PREPARE Act.

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 Emerald Cities Collaborative (ECC) is a national nonprofit network of organizations working together to advance a sustainable environment while creating economic opportunities for all. ECC is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and works in eight Emerald Cities nationwide with local and national partners that bring resources and expertise from the community, labor, business and government sectors. 

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