And Jessica Grannis, of the Georgetown Climate Centre, told ABC News: “What this order will do is ensure that we will waste more taxpayer money because federal agencies will no longer have to consider long-term flood risks to federally funded infrastructure projects”.
It revokes an Obama-era executive order aimed at reducing exposure to flooding, sea level rise and other consequences of climate change. It took 11 months to build.
The Obama administration’s 2015 order marked a major shift in how the federal government oversaw project planning, since agencies previously relied exclusively on historical flood data when specifying flood plain locations and coastal flood frequency. He has given the USA military the authority to set its own troop levels in Afghanistan and the Pentagon the flexibility to set troop levels in Iraq and Syria, although he has reportedly exhausted of this position of late, blaming his secretary of defense for “losing” in Afghanistan. Studies show that every dollar spent on disaster mitigation saves $4 in post-disaster recovery and rebuilding costs.
The Obama administration’s order covered only public infrastructure projects. “Trump is putting vulnerable communities, federal employees, and families at risk by throwing out any guarantee that our infrastructure will be safe”.
The U.S. has already suffered an estimated $260 billion in flood related damages between 1980 and 2013. It also could have impacted some homeowners or business owners turning to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to rebuild after a damaging storm.
It commanded federal agencies to undertake environmental analyses with “maximum efficiency and effectiveness”, with an eye toward green-lighting projects. He acknowledged that Louisiana was inundated with catastrophic flooding a year ago, but called it an isolated event. “We are going to have worsening conditions”.
“We don’t trust that this will be a good thing”, said Scott Edwards, co-director of the justice project at Food & Water Watch, a Washington-based environmental group.
President Barack Obama signed the order in 2015, but the changes have not taken effect; FEMA has been soliciting input and drafting new rules. He described the Obama order as a common-sense measure to prevent taxpayer dollars from being sunk into projects threatened by flooding. The old standard required projects be built to the elevation of flood that has a 1% annual chance of occurring, or what’s called a 100-year flood.
Perhaps the only major group to oppose the standards was the National Home Builders Association, which argued that more stringent building codes would raise the cost of construction.
President Donald Trump will look to reinvigorate his stalled push for a sweeping infrastructure bill Tuesday when he meets with some of his top aides in NY to discuss the plan.
In January, the Trump administration released a 50-item list of infrastructure priorities that included provisions for transmission expansion, wind and energy storage, among other power sector projects, but has been slow to follow up until now.