In late December we wrote appropriately nice words about the additional funding for the Corps in general and coastal storm damage reduction in particular that Congress added in its final appropriations bill. The figure comes out to over $128 million -- one of the highest totals since we began tracking these figures in FY96. The work plan takes the President's $46.6 million budget and allocates the additional funding provided by Congress. So, the Administration added $20 million to its proposed $26.5 million for Poplar Island (this is FY16--before the $62 million proposed for FY17 discussed above). But thanks to Congress, there are several projects on the East and Gulf Coasts that benefited from the added investigations and construction pots of money. Read below how to get our charts.
What's missing? A measly $100,000 or so to get a reauthorization study started for the first Federal project whose 50-year Federal authorization expires next year. The failure to include such a small but critical amount of funding is OMB's way of telling coastal communities with Federal projects that, as long as Congress can't do earmarks and the President can, they (OMB) intend to make sure that shore protection projects are killed. Do being throwing parties because Congress appropriated $85 million for coastal sand nourishment AND environmental restoration when the coastal economy brings in well over a $100 billion in Federal tax revenues annually is to have a Fat Tuesday mentality on the wrong day of the week. [Full disclosure: As the Clarence Darrow of Washington consultants, this complaint applies to a client of ours as well as others who are non-clients.] Either you have a Federal program to promote coastal resiliency or you don't. We are caught in a program without a vision or a commitment to support that vision.
What else is missing? Have you noticed that from December onwards there have been coastal storms combined with earlier serious flooding in the Midwest and the Southeast? FEMA has funding from its flood insurance program premiums. The Corps really has almost no post-disaster funds unless Congress provides a supplemental appropriation. We don't know the totality of documented damages to Federal water resource projects, but unless Congress tacks on a number that's probably above $100 million, inland and coastal damages will simply not get repaired using a dollar of Uncle Sam's money. Either provide solid amounts of disaster recovery funding every year or do away with the near-fictional program we have right now.