June 01, 2015

FEMA’s ESA Approach Affirmed in the Puget Sound

Molly Lawrence

Over the past decade, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has faced a slate of lawsuits across the country alleging that it has failed to consider the impact of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on threatened and endangered species (T&E species) and their critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The NFIP is a federal program through which FEMA makes flood insurance available in local communities in exchange for the local government adopting minimum development standards applicable to mapped floodplain areas. After a string of losses, FEMA recently won an important victory in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington regarding its approach to ESA compliance. On October 24, 2014, the district court affirmed the adequacy of FEMA’s implementation of the 2008 biological opinion (Puget Sound NFIP BiOp) regarding the impacts of FEMA’s implementation of the NFIP on T&E species and critical habitat in the Puget Sound region in National Wildlife Federation v. FEMA, Case No. C11-2044-RSM.

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