CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, December 7, 2015, the House will consider H.R. 6400, to revise the boundaries of certain John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System units in New Jersey, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 6400 was introduced on November 29, 2016, by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and was referred to the House Committee on Natural Resources.
H.R. 6400 makes boundary adjustments to three Coastal Barrier Resources units located along the New Jersey coast: Seidler Beach Unit NJ-02, Cliffwood Beach Unit NJ-03P, and Conaskonk Point Unit NJ-04.
The John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) comprises coastal barrier units on the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts as delineated on maps adopted by Congress. These units consist of undeveloped sections of coastal barrier islands and the associated aquatic habitat which lies behind these barriers. The Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) of 1982 and the Coastal Barrier Improvement Act of 1990 created and expanded, respectively, the CBRS. According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) testimony, the entire CBRS has 856 units and more than three million acres of land and associated aquatic habitat. The USFWS oversees the CBRS. According to the agency, the CBRA encourages the conservation of hurricane prone, biologically rich coastal barriers by restricting federal expenditures, such as federal flood insurance, that encourage development. Areas within the CBRS can be developed provided that private developers or other non-federal parties bear the full cost. Congress expanded the CBRS as part of the 1990 reauthorization, adding coastal lands along the Great Lakes, Florida Keys, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
While there are no federal development or permit restrictions associated with lands being included in the CBRS, P.L. 97-348 states that inclusion does place significant restrictions on the availability of federal assistance related to development. Under the CBRA, no federal flood insurance policies could be issued for properties within the system after October 1, 1989; however, any such policies issued prior to October 1, 1983 were grandfathered and allowed to remain. According to USFWS, restricting federal flood insurance for CBRS lands saved over $1 billion in taxpayer expenditures from 1982 to 2010.
According to the Committee, only undeveloped coastal barriers, and associated aquatic habitat (wetlands) are eligible for inclusion in the CBR System. Land in the System is no longer eligible for federal development subsidies, like sewage treatment plant grants, highways funds or federal flood insurance. “Otherwise Protected Areas”, which are managed as wildlife refuges, sanctuaries, recreation areas or natural resources conservation areas, can also be included, but may not receive federal flood insurance. After a public comment period, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which administers the CBR System, has recommended changes to remove a small area that was inappropriately classified as eligible for inclusion and to add certain OPAs and other fastland and associated aquatic habitat owned by local townships. The net change is the addition of 133 acres to the System.
For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-1828.