Speed Reads

'a natural disaster of its own'

10 states sue FEMA over flood insurance rate hike

Ten states and several Louisiana municipalities filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration on Thursday to block rate increases in the National Flood Insurance Program that are set to be implemented in the coming years. The suit argues that the higher premiums could force some people out of their homes and businesses. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency administers the program and offers coverage for property in high-risk flood areas. The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA are among the defendants named in the case, which was filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans.

FEMA claims its new Risk Rating 2.0 pricing plan, which went into effect in April, is more "equitable and better reflects flood risk," NPR summarized, before noting that the resulting rate increases will "average more than 100% in coastal states like Louisiana and Florida." Some southeast Louisiana parishes will see rates increase by over 500% on average. 

"The Risk Rating 2.0 flood insurance policy has now become a natural disaster of its own," Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said in a statement. He added that the policy is "completely disrupting the housing market and the economy across our state and our nation."

At a news conference announcing the lawsuit, Landry was joined by state and local officials who "renewed complaints that federal officials have refused to divulge methodology and data used in computing the new rates," CBS News reported. The group argued that the new policy fails to consider homeowners' flood mitigation efforts, CBS added, "such as house raising, or local governments' construction of levees and other flood protection measures."

In addition to the state of Louisiana and 43 of its parishes, Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia are listed as plaintiffs. "It's not just a coastal issue, although it does deeply, deeply impact our coastal communities," Louisiana Solicitor General Elizabeth Murrill said. "It impacts working communities. It impacts anybody who lives near water."