PARKERSBURG - Congressional lawmakers were slow to respond to the flood insurance issue because of misconceptions, a West Virginia representative said on Friday.
They thought the increases in the federally subsidized rates were related only to hurricanes, Rep. David McKinley said.
They didn't realize anyone living near a river or stream prone to flooding would be confronted by 10-fold premium increases, he said.
A house in Toms River, N.J., is elevated in a neighborhood flooded by Superstorm Sandy. A bill passed by Congress on Thursday scales back drastic increases in flood insurance rates in places including the Jersey shore. (AP Photo)
"This was not all about hurricanes," he said.
The House and Senate passed a bill, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014, limiting increases of no more than 18 percent a year, which is awaiting the president's signature, McKinley said.
"That passage was huge," he said.
McKinley spoke with 1st District reporters on Friday afternoon, discussing various issues including the flood insurance, the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2013 and his fact-finding trip to Israel.
McKinley and Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, last month were in Israel, meeting with Israeli officials and participating in a town hall meeting at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.
They also toured a gas-fired power plant the Israelis hope could be a model for other generation plants in the future, McKinley said.
Rather than running large boilers at half-capacity, the plant fires smaller boilers and adds units as demand requires, he said.
"They found that to be more efficient," McKinley, an engineer, said.
Israel was obtaining natural gas from Egypt, but has found large reserves in the Mediterranean Sea, McKinley said. Israel also has a large coal-fired plant, to which McKinley said West Virginia could supply coal.
A big difference in Israel from the United States is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn't favor environmental regulations that could lead to higher utility costs, McKinley said.
"They don't want to have environmental issues to cause rates to go up," McKinley said.