Just ten days before Hurricane Harvey hit, Trump signed an executive order that eliminated flood protections that former President Obama introduced.
The regulations that were removed would have made infrastructure that is federally funded, such as roads and bridges, less vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
The rule was signed by Obama in 2015 and had not yet gone into effect. These protections would have required the federal government to take into account the risk of flooding and sea level rising when building new infrastructure or rebuilding due to disasters.
Trump’s reasoning to completely remove this rule was because it would slow down plans for new infrastructure.
When revealing his decision in August, Trump explained, “We’re going to get infrastructure built quickly, inexpensively, relatively speaking, and the permitting process will go very, very quickly.”
“It’s going to be a very streamlined process, and by the way, if it doesn’t meet environmental safeguards, we’re not going to approve it.”
Harvey has caused major damage in Texas and experts predict that it will cost between $30 billion and $100 billion in damage for Texas.
This move was praised by business groups but highly criticized by environmentalists.
According to Shana Udvardy, a climate-preparedness specialist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, it’s a “grave mistake” to rebuild Texas without taking into consideration the severity of these major storms that have been increasing.
Eli Lehrer, president of the free-market think tank R Street Institute, also states this is “the biggest step backwards that has ever been taken in flood-management policy.” Lehrer added that this move would waste taxpayer money, harm the environment, and cost lives.
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