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Disasters Risk & Response


Disasters Results - 2022

NOAA announced (January 10) that the U.S. experienced 18 separate weather and climate-related events during 2022, each costing at least $1 billion. These events led to 474 deaths and cost a combined $165 billion.

The events number is the third highest number on record (tied with 2011 and 2017). The year 2020 had the highest number on record–22– followed by 20 events in 2021.

Hurricane Ian was the most costly event, with costs nearing an estimated $113 billion, ranking third in the most costly hurricanes on record since 1980, behind Hurricanes Katrina (2005) and Harvey (2017).

The number of recorded tornadoes ended the year about 9% above the 1991-2020 average across the contiguous US, with 1,331 tornadoes reported. March 2022 had triple the average number of tornadoes reported (293) and the most tornadoes reported for any March in the 1950-2022 record.

(posted: 1-11-23)


Industrial-Chemical Accident Prevention

The EPA issued a proposed rule (August 19) implementing risk mitigation requirements for facilities where accidents can affect nearby residents and communities. Requirements similar to the proposed rule were dropped by the Trump Administration in 2019.

Some of the requirements under the proposed rule include that targeted facilities must evaluate risks of natural hazards and climate change, including any associated loss of power; that they must require safer technologies, alternatives analysis, and third party audits if they have high accident rates; and that they must increase the availability of information for local communities in their requested language.

The proposed rule will have a 60 day public comment period. There is no specific timeline for finalizing the rule.

(updated: 8-21-22)


Wildfires - Risk Mitigation

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is enabling investments of nearly $4 billion in new funding over five years within the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior to address wildfire risk, particularly in the western United States.

In detail outlined in Wildfire Today, the U.S. Forest Service will be spending about $2.4 billion in new funding over five years for, among other things, $1 billion for prescribed fires and forest thinning, $500 million for fuelbreak construction, and $500 million for wildfire defense grants for at-risk communities. The Department of the Interior released its initial proposed spend plan covering nearly $1.5 billion over the next five years. The biggest funding investments include $847 million in forest fuels management and $314 million in burned area rehabilitation.

The investments support implementation of a 10 year strategy for responding to the growing problem of wildfires that the Department of Agriculture (home of the Forest Service) announced in January. The strategy calls for targeting 20 million acres of national forests and grasslands and 30 acres of Federal, state, tribal, and private lands. The initial focus will be the highest-risk areas, including forests within the Pacific Northwest, the Sierra Nevada Range in California, the front range in Colorado, and the Southwest.

Actions outlined in the strategy include landscape-scale work on fuels and forest health treatments, including the use of prescribed fire and thinning to reduce hazardous fuels; as well as investments in fire-adapted communities and work to address post-fire risks, recovery and reforestation.

The Administration says the cost of a 10-year program that addresses 50 million acres of forests near vulnerable communities, could reach $50 billion. Prior to Infrastructure Act funding, the Federal Government was spending only about $1.9 billion per year on fire suppression. While the Infrastructure Act provides a significant infusion of funding, it is not clear where remaining funds will come from to meet strategy goals.

(updated: 2-21-22)


Infrastructure Bill - Funding

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act included:

  • $7 billion for Army Corps of Engineers flood risk mitigation projects; $5 billion for an electrical grid resiliency program; and,

  • $3.4 billion for wildfire risk reduction through, among other things, wildfire defense grants, mechanical thinning, controlled burns, and firefighting resources.

(updated: 2-2-22)


Connected Policies


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Disaster Response & Recovery Laws
Disaster Response & Recovery Laws

This is a summary by the Congressional Research Service describing existing policies encompassed within law and related rules pertaining to disaster response and recovery, including which level of government and agency is in charge of which element of disaster response and recovery, and the extent and processes behind Federal financial and other supporting resources.

Status: all current laws are in effect, and no significant changes in law and policy are expected at this time.


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