Federal Register Watch


Federal Register Watch

by Charles Hueter

August 29 - September 2, 2005

What freedoms have you lost this week?

For this edition of the Federal Register Watch, I'm devoting my attention to those items posted in response to Hurricane Katrina or that I think relate significantly to it.

August 29, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 166)

No entry for this day, an almost unnecessary addition to the well-mortared foundation demonstrating the federal government's ineffectiveness in responding to a hurricane of historic proportions headed straight for a metropolitan area that was well-known to have a disastrous weakness for storms of lesser strength.

August 30, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 167)


A reorganization of the Coast Guard took place on August 19. It created "Sector New Orleans" out of three separate commands. Guess where the command center is! 201 Old Hammond Highway, Metairie, Louisiana . . . within spitting distance of the 17th Street Canal and the worst flooding in New Orleans. The Notice does not mention the hurricane or the disaster.

[ http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20051800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2005/05-17207.htm ]

That's it for the 30th. One full day after making landfall, Hurricane Katrina has not yet graced the pages of the Federal Register. Do note that Mr. Bush declared various counties in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama eligible for federal assistance on the 27th and 28th, so I suppose it just takes a few days for these things to enter into the "official" public record.

August 31 2005 (Volume 70, Number 168)

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY - Federal Emergency Management Agency

Do you think the estimated "11,375 burden hours" for the "communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program" to complete might have an effect on the situation on the Gulf Coast? These forms are for the purpose of "describing the progress made during the year in the implementation and enforcement of floodplain management regulations." The verbiage asks for comment on whether this kind of data collection is "necessary for the proper performance" of FEMA. A whole layer of wait-and-see, public comment, paperwork filing, and other delays in a vital process.

And statists complain about our hypothetical free market being detached from the needs of the people!

[ http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20051800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2005/05-17339.htm ]

That's it for the 31st, an entire day after the 17th Street Canal levee broke, causing the widespread flooding of New Orleans. More than 120 hours after people first started considering the chance of a catastrophic hit to the region, the Federal Register remains silent.

September 1, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 169)


I was not aware that the recent energy bill (curiously, it itself produces no energy) mandated the DoE to increase the Strategic Petroleum Reserve's capacity from 727 million barrels to 1 billion. The SRP is located along the Texas-Louisiana border and hearings on the environmental impact of that capacity increase were to happen in Hattiesburg and Pascagoula, Mississippi and Houma, Lousisana. All three locations were hit by Katrina or are flooded with refugees.

[ http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20051800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2005/05-17447.htm ]

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY - Federal Emergency Management Agency

Here is a Notice that one might claim to be prescient: "minimum training and education requirements . . . for all insurance agents who sell Standard Flood Insurance Policies issued through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)." We can't have dunces selling flood insurance!

Then again, a dunce isn't someone I want to buy insurance from in the first place. Those customers who do buy insurance from the ignorant and the dumb are more likely to be displeased with their service. Those who hire the ignorant and the dumb will be burdened with higher labor and customer service costs. This, of course, goes just as well towards a salesman's training.

You might be able to hear the state-licensed salesmen breathe a little easier, because FEMA choose to "work with States to ensure that NFIP requirements are implemented through established (existing) licensing schemes." Meaning, the job protection rackets already in place won't be substantially altered, giving entrenched businesses an advantage over newcomers.

[ http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20051800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2005/05-17444.htm ]

August has passed. Katrina remains a stranger to the Federal Register.

September 2, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 170)

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE - Department of the Army; Corps of Engineers

Now that the Gulf Coast of Louisiana has been ravaged and redrawn, do you think the Houma Navigation Canal Lock and Flood Gate will get the funding for this environmental impact study?

[ http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20051800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2005/05-17496.htm ]


This 33-page Notice "identifies unutilized, underutilized, excess, and surplus Federal property reviewed by HUD for suitability for possible use to assist the homeless." I wonder if anyone at FEMA has seen it.

[ http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20051800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2005/05-17243.htm ]

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR - Employment Standards Administration Wage and Hour Division

Senate Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was on the TV Tuesday. One of the things she emphasized in her press conference was the need to get rid of the "red tape" surrounding efforts to aid and rebuild the areas hit by the hurricane. I immediately mused, what, like the kind your ideology constantly calls for?

So it's of interest to note that "basic hourly wage rates and fringe benefits" for "Federally Assisted Construction" are subject to meddling by the feds. If I spent more time digging, I'm certain this wouldn't be the only regulation to be enacted just at the wrong time.

[ http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20051800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2005/05-17335.htm ]

Friday ends with no mention of the storm or the disaster, making this week void of the subject as far as I can tell. Perhaps next week will be different.

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Charles Hueter's picture
Columns on STR: 11

Charles Hueter is a beer snob living in Austin, Texas and blogs regularly at Magnifisyncopathological.  He moderates the Anarcho-Capitalism group on MySpace, trains his cat for urban zombie warfare, and has found no libertarian theory that successfully explains girls.