Thought Leadership

Where does BRIC funding go?

July 12, 2022

By Cam Davis – Vice President, GEI

In this blog series, we’ve covered what resilience is and what kinds of projects are considered for BRIC funding. We’ve also covered who is generally eligible and we’ve talked about when – that is, a general schedule to be considered for Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) funding. And we’ve covered how – the process by which BRIC funding decisions are made.

Now, let’s look at where BRIC funds tend to go. And in this, I’ll offer some political speculation.

When you think about natural disasters and how their effects can be minimized, most of us think about hurricanes and, increasingly, wildfires. Where do these disasters typically happen? Along the ocean coasts and in the west.

So, it’s not surprising that, as I covered in a previous post, much of BRIC’s funding goes toward flood control ($550 million under the FY20 program), utility and infrastructure protection ($91.3 million), and wildfire management ($49.3 million).

We can think of where BRIC funding goes on different scales: the local and the regional. Locally, a significant majority of BRIC funding goes to mitigate flooding. That is, where low lying areas and areas near coastlines can be inundated due to intense precipitation and storm surges. Wildfires have been infamous in the west and may be expanding their range. For example, Minnesota suffered from significant fires—and as a result other areas around the Midwest suffered from poor air quality—in the summer of 2021.

Regionally, BRIC awards have largely corresponded with these disasters. So, it should be no surprise that much BRIC funding has gone to the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts. And, not far from the Pacific Coast, funding has gone to the wildfire-prone west. According to one study, 87% of all 2020 BRIC funding went to Atlantic and Pacific Coast states. The outliers were the District of Columbia and Kentucky.

Understand, too, that there’s more to the picture than where disasters happen most often or most intensively. BRIC funding also tends to go where building codes are the most effective at preventing property damage. As building codes are typically established at the municipal level (county, city, township), regions with more disasters, and that also have more effective building codes, could get more funding because that’s where federal funding is less likely to be wasted.

Here’s where I’ll venture into in some political forecasting about the future of BRIC funding: It’s only a matter of time before the Gulf (think hurricanes), Mountain (think more wildfires), Plains (think tornados), and Midwestern (think Great Lakes coastal disasters and derechos) states start crying foul, that they are subsidizing disaster prevention funding along the Eastern and Western seaboards. That’s hardly to say the Atlantic and Pacific coastal states won’t continue to get significant BRIC funding. It’s to say that, for other regions, their day is coming as members of Congress try to recalibrate funding in favor of their states and districts.

I hope you’ve found this blog series on Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities helpful. If you have questions about any phase of the BRIC funding process, please get in touch.

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