For those inclined to believe that the Assembled Wisdom in Carson City, NV is somehow immune from the conspiracy theorists whose adherence to a radical interpretation of the 10th Amendment is tantamount to the faithful offering up sacrifices to the Exodus 32 model golden calf — they aren’t. The Republican Central Committee of Carson City is pleased to inform us they are enthusiastically supporting SJR 3, a perfect recitation of the Tenther’s Ideal. The Elko Daily Free Press offers a bit more information on the subject, regarding the intent of the sponsor, Assemblyman Settelmeyer:
“Senate Joint Resolution 3 proposes Nevada claim sovereignty as a state and order a cease-and-desist for all federal mandates deemed beyond those enumerated in the Constitution. Settelmeyer provided examples of the federal government deeming 2,500 acres in Douglas County a flood plain, even though there is no record of flooding in the area, and changing arsenic regulations for water.”
Will you have that with or without the arsenic? There are some problems with Assemblyman Settelmeyer’s assessment. Yes, moving from 50 ppb to 10 ppb as acceptable levels for arsenic in drinking water is difficult in some areas in which arsenic is a naturally appearing phenomena. However, it’s not like 10ppb is an impossible goal. Arsenic is an accumulative poison. It is not good for human beings. It really isn’t something that ought to be present in the water we drink, much less in the water we use to mix infant formula. But, it’s not an impossible problem. There are several ways in which arsenic contamination can be abated. Blending water from wells with varying levels of arsenic is one possibility, and there are arsenic treatment technologies which can be applied to mitigate the problem.
Better still, that self-same Federal government which establishes the acceptable levels is also the source of funding for arsenic abatement projects. Local water systems may have to support research into their arsenic issues; may have to try several options before the problem is mitigated; and, may have to expend some funds to arrive at a solution. The point that Assemblyman Settelmeyer is missing is that much of the engineering and technological assistance needed to meet the arsenic level requirements is funded by grants or low interest loans from the Federal Government.
Assemblyman Settelmeyer’s “solution” appears to be to address arsenic contamination by rejecting the federal standards as “unconstitutional” and letting the state declare whatever “standards” might be convenient for local water suppliers. This solves every problem EXCEPT for the arsenic in the water. What? You don’t want Granma’ or the infant in the family drinking arsenic contaminated water? The obvious solution in Settelmeyer Land would be to move the family?
As to the floodplain designation… it’s a matter of insurance, as explained by NFIP:
“Since standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding, it’s important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S. In 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to help provide a means for property owners to financially protect themselves. The NFIP offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters, and business owners if their community participates in the NFIP. Participating communities agree to adopt and enforce ordinances that meet or exceed FEMA requirements to reduce the risk of flooding.”
In order to get flood insurance a property owner must live in a community which participates in the National Flood Program, and Douglas County, NV has been aligned with the program since 1975. The mapping is an important component of the insurance system:
“Through its Flood Hazard Mapping Program, FEMA identifies flood hazards, assesses flood risks, and partners with States and communities to provide accurate flood hazard and risk data to guide them to mitigation actions. Flood Hazard Mapping is an important part of the National Flood Insurance Program, as it is the basis of the NFIP regulations and flood insurance requirements. FEMA maintains and updates data through Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and risk assessments. FIRMs include statistical information such as data for river flow, storm tides, hydrologic/hydraulic analyses, and rainfall and topographic surveys. FEMA uses the best available technical data to create the flood hazard maps that outline your community’s different flood risk areas.”
Insurance is all about calculating risk, and different flood risk areas determine insurance availability. So, what’s the issue?
“Homes and businesses with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders in high-risk flood areas are required to have flood insurance. While flood insurance is not federally required if you live in a moderate-to-low risk flood area, it is still available and strongly recommended.” [FloodSmart]
If the area involved in Assemblyman Settelmeyer’s critique hasn’t flooded recently, then the property isn’t a “high risk flood area,” and flood insurance would not be required for a federally regulated or insured lenders mortgage. Further, if a property owner has land which is unlikely to be flooded a designation can be altered to accommodate the property owner. [Floodsmart] What Assemblyman Settelmeyer appears to be lamenting is that property owners of the 2,500 acres in Douglas County are eligible to purchase flood insurance IF they want to from a local insurance agent. Now, why might they want to? The insurance industry has some advice:
“Although flood insurance can be relatively inexpensive depending on where you live, most Americans neglect to purchase protection. Yet your home has a 26 percent chance of flooding as opposed to the 9 percent chance of fire during the course of a typical 30-year mortgage, according to the NFIP. Almost 25 percent of all flood insurance claims come from areas with low to moderate flood risk.” [Insure.Com]
The insurance sector has also made the following pertinent calculation: “Areas with a 1% chance of flooding in a given year are considered high-risk areas. At least 25% of homes in high-risk areas flood at least once during the term of a 30 year mortgage. Many flood more than once.”
Note that the NFIP offers insurance eligibility in designated areas. The federal government doesn’t sell flood insurance, a home or business owner buys the policy from participating private insurance companies. What would this mean for persons in Settelmeyer’s example, those property owners in Douglas County?
“Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) are defined as the area that will be inundated by the flood event having a 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. The 1-percent annual chance flood is also referred to as the base flood or 100-year flood. These FEMA flood zones are typically x-shaded, A, AO (with a depth associated), and AH, and AE.
The non-technical and simplified definition of a Floodplain is “an area adjacent to a body of water.” But using this definition to determine if your property is in a floodplain is deceiving. You may be located five miles or more from a river or stream and find your house covered with water from the overflow of their banks. Floodplains have varying characteristics and may not be easily identified as such. The FEMA flood zones for a floodplain are typically AE and AE-floodway.” [Douglas County]
The instructions in the information offered by Douglas County refer to maps which are available for inspection at the planning office. Notice that the insurance industry’s 1% rule applies to eligibility for flood insurance in high risk areas. One thing omitted from this explanation is that a flood somewhere a bit distant from the home owner’s property can cause a sewer back up right there in the old homestead — which would be covered IF the property owner bought flood insurance. So, why would anyone object to eligibility for flood insurance?
Perhaps the answer lies not with the property owner, but with the property developers? Douglas County has some special provisions:
“Floodplain development permits, Special requirements for land division in SFHAs, and Standards for Construction in the SFHA and Floodplain are all covered in Title 20.50 Floodplain Management of the Douglas County Consolidated Development Code. Douglas County has had floodplain regulations since 1974 and also participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS) in order for property owners to acquire discounted flood insurance. As a participating community, the County must follow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regulations at a minimum for the permitting of construction within the special flood hazard areas.”
One might speculate that a developer might not want to abide by standards adopted by Douglas County for development permits under Title 20.50?
In short, Assemblyman Settelmeyer’s “solution” to the sovereignty issue would have two immediate results — both related to the examples he provides — both of which are bad news. (1) Those communities in his area seeking to mitigate arsenic contamination in drinking water supplies would be ineligible for federal funding assistance in mitigating or eliminating the hazard; and, (2) property owners in parts of Douglas County whose residential or business property might be determined to be located in flood plain management areas would not be eligible to participate in flood insurance programs. Thus much for “sovereignty” if a man’s home is his castle — but the moat has moved inside.
*SJR 3 is sponsored by Settelmeyer, Gustavson, Hutchison, Cegavske, Goicoechea, Wheeler, Grady, Hansen, Kirner and was refered to the Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections on February 6, 2013. It was heard by the committee on February 19, 2013 with no action taken. [pdf notes]