FEMA recently weighed in on the climate change debate by refusing to give disaster relief funding to any state that didn’t have established protocols to address climate change:
This may put several Republican governors who maintain the earth isn’t warming due to human activities, or prefer to do nothing about it, into a political bind. Their position may block their states’ access to hundreds of millions of dollars in FEMA funds. Over the past five years, the agency has awarded an average $1 billion a year in grants to states and territories for taking steps to mitigate the effects of disasters.
“If a state has a climate denier governor that doesn’t want to accept a plan, that would risk mitigation work not getting done because of politics,” said Becky Hammer, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s water program. “The governor would be increasing the risk to citizens in that state” because of his climate beliefs.
While I don’t appreciate FEMA strong-arming states over climate change, this scenario provides states a unique opportunity to extricate themselves from at least some policy-swaying federal funding. Because let’s face it, this latest manipulative stunt by FEMA is merely the most recent and most transparent case where the federal government has exercised political control over state governments through “strings-attached” funding offers.
The history of “baited” federal funding is long and treacherous. From healthcare, education, and roads to this most recent disaster relief funding, the federal government has regularly used funding promises to enforce its own standards in contradiction to the will of local governments.
We can’t say we believe in the sovereignty of states and the importance of local governments when our local governments are unwilling to refuse federal funds. Government bloat and centralization begins there, and it must be fixed there. FEMA wants to manipulate states into following its climate change agenda? So be it. How about this time, at least, we don’t bite.