Ernst Highlights Flawed Cost-Benefit Metrics in Flood Mitigation

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, emphasized to Anthony Pratt, Administrator, Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control, at a committee hearing the importance of improving the metrics the Army Corps of Engineers uses to budget for flood mitigation projects, such as funding the Cedar Rapids flood mitigation project.

Senator Ernst stated that despite being included in recent infrastructure legislation, the Cedar Rapids, Iowa flood mitigation projects remain incomplete: “One of Iowa’s top infrastructure priorities is flood mitigation, we’ve heard a little bit about flood mitigation here. Our second biggest city in the state has endured two major flood events, 2008 and 2016, and to date they haven’t received any construction funds, despite being authorized in the 2014 WRDA bill and again mentioned as a priority in the 2016 WRDA bill.”

In November of 2016, Senator Ernst met with the head of the Army Corps of Engineers to discuss her concerns, “I expressed to him that communities like Cedar Rapids and states like Iowa will likely never see federal assistance from the Corps because they lose out every time to larger states that have higher property values and thus higher economic benefit.”

Additionally, as the Iowa Senator noted, the Army Corps of Engineers’ cost-benefit metrics for federal assistance favors coastal regions with a high property value, one that often leaves rural areas, such as Cedar Rapids, with a disadvantage: “I’m really interested in improving these metrics so our rural communities have a fighting chance at tapping into Corps expertise because if the only metric the Corps uses to determine the economic benefit of a project is property value then it’s hard for me to conclude, or not to conclude that the Corps considers building beaches in front of multi-million oceanfront homes to be a higher priority than protecting the people that live in Iowa.”

https://youtu.be/hsUf1UXE9-k

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