However, many current government programs are downright counterproductive in dealing with climate change. The National Flood Insurance Program encourages development in areas likely to be impacted by sea-level rise, while many Army Corps of Engineers projects exacerbate the problem by starving river deltas of the silt they need to remain in place.
Other government programs subsidize the use of coal and the opening of new oil wells. Ending all subsidies should be a high priority for conservatives. Broad efforts could include creation of “subsidy-free zones” in areas likely to be impacted by climate change. One version of this idea was signed into law by Ronald Reagan with 1984’s Coastal Barrier Resources Act, which bars federal subsidies to new development over thousands of miles of coastal barrier islands. Such policies promote adaptation to a changing climate, and they save taxpayer money.
Conservatives also should press the federal government, the largest employer in the United States, to do a better job preparing its own facilities for the potential consequences of severe weather. Representative Matt Cartwright (D., Pa.) has proposed doing exactly that. His pending legislation, the ponderously named Preparedness and Risk Management for Extreme Weather Patterns Assuring Resilience (PREPARE) Act, makes sense and should draw conservative co-sponsors.