With tens of thousands of people displaced and many billions of dollars in estimated damages from the impacts of Hurricane Harvey, an environmental group on Tuesday filed a formal request on Tuesday to discover why the Trump administration recently decided to lift flood zone restrictions designed to mitigate these kinds of costly disasters.
As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, Trump reversed an executive order signed by President Barack Obama in 2015 which established infrastructure regulations aimed at making sure federally-funded projects including buildings, bridges, and roads are designed to withstand the effects of climate change. Obama’s directive included new building standards for flood-prone areas, including a regulation that required structures in such regions to be elevated by at least two feet to help prevent flooding.
By filing a Freedom of Information Act request, the Center for Biological Diversity said it “aims to unearth the factors influencing” Trump’s order and would be looking for “evidence that the Trump administration rescinded the flood-protection standard because it was grounded in climate science or because it was enacted by Obama—or both.”
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Obama’s regulations were meant to discourage the building of federally-funded projects in flood zones. It was put in place after New York and New Jersey’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy, which hit the area in 2012. As the Guardian reported Tuesday, rebuilding after Sandy took place in areas that were likely to be affected with more flooding in the future—especially with sea levels rising.
“Harvey’s devastation illustrates the danger of Trump’s order to disregard flood risks to life-sustaining infrastructure on our coasts,” said Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “With climate change making storms like Harvey more powerful, slashing protections for the safety of millions of Americans in flood-prone areas is just unacceptable.”
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