A federal program designed to aid historically excluded communities recover from climate impacts is being used to further benefit white and affluent areas, E&E reports. FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities has $1 billion to distribute to states and localities for building projects with long-term resilience to flooding, wildfires, and storms, but received applications for $4.2 billion in grants. This means that affected states and localities must compete for funding, which further disadvantages low-income communities and communities of color. Additionally, dozens of congressional earmarks have diverted more than $150 million to projects in white and wealthy areas — like the $2.25 million secured by Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) for a coastal retaining wall in Newburyport, an exclusive enclave on the North Shore with a median income of $111,000 and a 93% non-Hispanic white population.
These earmarks mean BRIC “is not a competitive program anymore, so you’re not rewarding projects based on their merit and the criteria that are established every year,” Carlos Martín, an expert on disaster policy at the Brookings Institution, told E&E News. “Places that don’t need the resources and are exerting power,” explained Martin. Laurie Schoeman, national director for resilience and disaster recovery at Enterprise Community Partners, agreed: “A lot of communities that get more earmarks are often communities that have higher capacity to administer and apply for program funding.” (E&E News)