[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 95 (Wednesday, May 16, 2012)]
[Pages 28891-28893]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-11841]



Federal Emergency Management Agency

[Docket ID FEMA-2012-0012]

National Flood Insurance Program Programmatic Environmental 
Impact Statement

AGENCY: Federal Emergency Management Agency, DHS.

ACTION: Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.


SUMMARY: The Federal Emergency Management Agency intends to prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement evaluating the impacts on the quality of 
the human environment of the National Flood Insurance Program as it is 
currently implemented and of potential future changes to the Program.

DATES: Comments must be submitted by July 16, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Comments must be identified by Docket ID FEMA-2012-0012 and 
may be submitted by one of the following methods:
    Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the 
instructions for submitting comments. Please note that this notice of 
intent is not a rulemaking and that the Federal Rulemaking Portal is 
being utilized only as a mechanism for receiving comments.
    Mail: Regulatory Affairs Legal Division, Office of Chief Counsel, 
Federal Emergency Management Agency, Room 835, 500 C Street SW., 
Washington, DC 20472-3100.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Emily Blanton, Federal Emergency

[[Page 28892]]

Management Agency, Office of Environmental Planning and Historic 
Preservation, 1800 South Bell Street, 7th Floor, Arlington, VA 20598-
3020. Phone: (202) 646-2585. Fax: (202) 646-4033.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section 102(2)(C) of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the Council on Environmental 
Quality (CEQ) regulations implementing NEPA, and the Federal Emergency 
Management Agency's (FEMA's) Environmental Consideration regulations 
require preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for 
major Federal actions that would have significant impacts to the 
quality of the human environment. FEMA is undertaking an EIS of the 
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to consider new information 
relating to the environmental impacts of the NFIP, to update the 1976 
EIS on the NFIP, and to consider potential changes to the program's 
implementation. The CEQ regulations at 40 CFR 1501.7 and 40 CFR 1508.22 
require the issuance of a notice of intent to prepare an EIS to 
initiate the scoping process. Scoping is an early and open process that 
assists the Federal action agency in determining the scope of issues to 
be addressed and for identifying significant issues related to a 
proposed action.
    The U.S. Congress established the NFIP with the passage of the 
National Flood Insurance Act of 1968. The NFIP is a Federal program for 
property owners in NFIP participating communities to purchase insurance 
as a protection against flood losses in exchange for State and 
community adoption and implementation of land use criteria that reduce 
future flood damages. Participation in the NFIP is based on an 
agreement between communities and the Federal Government. If a 
community adopts and enforces a FEMA approved floodplain management 
ordinance to reduce future flood risk to new construction in regulated 
floodplains, the Federal Government will make flood insurance available 
to individuals within the community as financial protection against 
flood losses. This insurance is designed to provide a financial 
alternative and to reduce the escalating costs of Federal disaster 
assistance for flood damaged buildings and their contents. The costs 
associated with flood damage are reduced by nearly $1.7 billion a year 
through communities implementing sound floodplain management 
requirements and property owners purchasing flood insurance. 
Additionally, buildings constructed in compliance with NFIP building 
standards suffer approximately 80 percent less damage annually than 
those not built to NFIP standards.
    The Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA), a part 
of FEMA, manages the NFIP. The three components of the NFIP are Flood 
Insurance, Floodplain Management, and Flood Hazard Mapping. More than 
21,000 communities across the United States and its territories 
participate in the NFIP by adopting and enforcing floodplain management 
ordinances to reduce future flood damages.
    In addition to providing flood insurance and reducing flood damages 
through floodplain management regulations, the NFIP identifies and maps 
the Nation's regulated floodplains. Mapping flood hazards creates a 
broad-based awareness of flood hazards and provides data needed for 
floodplain management programs and to actuarially rate new construction 
for flood insurance.
    FEMA has led various efforts to identify areas for improvement 
within the NFIP. In 2006, FEMA released an evaluation of the program 
across five major areas: Actuarial soundness and the cost of flooding, 
compliance with NFIP floodplain management requirements, building 
standards and identifying flood risks, insurance policy sales and 
mandatory purchase requirement, and environmental and development 
impacts of the NFIP. The evaluation can be accessed at http://www.fema.gov/business/nfip/nfipeval.shtm.
    More recently FEMA initiated an open and public process to modify 
the NFIP which has led to the identification of possible program 
changes. Many of these changes would also account for environmental 
planning and historic preservation considerations in the administration 
of the program, including but not limited to impacts on endangered and 
threatened species and critical habitat. This effort will result in a 
comprehensive series of policy recommendations designed to transition 
the NFIP toward a more resilient, sustainable, and comprehensive 
approach to flood risk management. Information about this effort can be 
found at http://www.fema.gov/business/nfip/nfip_reform.shtm.
    FEMA has developed a Purpose and Need statement for evaluating NFIP 
proposed action and alternatives. The Purpose and Need statement 
discusses the need for a National Flood Insurance Program and the 
purpose laid out by Congress. It also establishes the need to account 
for Constitutional considerations, such as due process and preservation 
of States' rights, and consideration of national policies such as those 
established by NEPA, the National Historic Preservation Act, the 
Endangered Species Act, Executive Order 11988--Floodplain Management, 
and Executive Order 12898--Federal Actions to Address Environmental 
Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations. FEMA has 
developed five alternatives for its consideration. In addition, FEMA 
has preliminarily identified nine broad areas for evaluation of 
potential for effect on the human environment that will be evaluated 
during this process. These documents are available in this Docket for 
review and comment. FEMA proposes to evaluate the following proposed 
action and alternatives in this EIS:
    (1) Modify the NFIP based upon changes identified through the 
evaluation process to enhance floodplain management standards including 
provisions to address endangered species and habitat concerns. This is 
FEMA's proposed action.
    (2) Taking no action, which would result in the continued 
administration and implementation of the NFIP as it stands today.
    (3) Discontinue the NFIP, recognizing that only Congress can take 
this action.
    (4) Request legislative authority to remove existing subsidies and 
cross subsidies for flood insurance policies.
    (5) Modify the NFIP based upon changes identified through the 
evaluation process to enhance floodplain management standards including 
provisions to address endangered species and habitat concerns and 
request legislative authority to remove existing subsidies and cross 
subsidies for flood insurance policies.
    This notice and public comment request initiates the public scoping 
process for this action. Public comments submitted on these documents 
will become part of the scoping record. FEMA also intends to initiate 
discussions with other Federal agencies on the scope of this effort and 
identify cooperating agencies interested in participating as such in 
this process.
    At this time FEMA does not plan to conduct public scoping meetings 
given the amount of public input FEMA has already received during the 
NFIP Reform process. The evaluation process included one scoping 
meeting with key stakeholders in November 2009. A summary of the 
information gathered (Phase I Report) can be found at http://www.fema.gov/business/nfip/nfip_reform.shtm#3. The Phase I Report

[[Page 28893]]

is available in this Docket for inspection. In December 2010, FEMA 
conducted two public meetings and opened a public comment period on 
four alternatives for NFIP Reform. See 75 FR 69096, Nov. 10, 2010. 
Comments received can be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov/ under 
Docket ID FEMA-2010-0065. These comments will be considered part of the 
scoping process for this EIS.

    Authority:  National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), as 
amended, 42 U.S.C. 4331 et seq.; 40 CFR part 1500; 44 CFR part 10.

W. Craig Fugate,
Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency.
[FR Doc. 2012-11841 Filed 5-15-12; 8:45 am]