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Bipartisan Bill Aims to Authorize Payouts for Coastal Structures

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A new bipartisan bill would authorize National Flood Insurance Plan payouts for structures condemned due to chronic erosion or unusual flooding.

Introduced earlier this month by Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Congressman Greg Murphy (R-N.C.), the Prevent Environmental Hazards Act would allow advance payouts for demolition or relocation — up to 40% of the home’s value, or $250,000 — and limit payouts to 40% if owners neglect to act before a collapse.

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“Coastal communities in Maine know all too well how devastating the impacts of the climate crisis can be,” Congresswoman Chellie Pingree said in a press release. “Over the last year, Maine has been hit with multiple major storms, and climate emergencies are continuing to increase across the country.”

Related: Maine to Spend $25 Million to Rebuild Waterfront Damaged by Winter Storms

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She said that the Prevent Environmental Hazards Act enables homeowners “to tackle coastal erosion before losing their homes by authorizing the National Flood Insurance Program to give payouts for condemned structures and allowing advanced demolition or relocation funding,” and added that giving coastal communities more funding options “is crucial to mitigating future climate change impacts, and I am happy to be a part of this bipartisan effort.”

In the press release, Murphy said that homeowners “should not be forced to wait for their home to cause an environmental hazard before the National Flood Insurance Program is implemented. As many in our coastal communities understand, ocean currents and weather systems are unpredictable.”

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Related: Video of Carolina Beach House Collapsing into Sea Continues to Go Viral

He pointed to beach erosion in Rodanthe, North Carolina, that destroyed six properties in the last four years, causing massive environmental and personal hazards before the homeowners were able to receive NFIP compensation. Murphy said that proactive planning will better serve eligible beneficiaries, improve public safety, save taxpayer dollars and protect the surrounding environment.

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As of press time, the bill had been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.

According to the EU’s climate change monitoring service, each of the past 12 months ranked as the warmest on record in year-on-year comparisons. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that many beaches along the nation’s coastline have lost more than six feet of shoreline a year over the last century, with costal erosion estimates for much of the country expected to increase in the coming decades.

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