Donald Trump signed an order days before Hurricane Harvey hit which scrapped many of the flood protections put in place by former US President, Barack Obama.
Hurricane Harvey has devastated the state of Texas with 30 inches of rain in less than 48 hours resulting in widespread flooding, leaving five dead and more than 2,000 requiring rescue.
Earlier this month, Trump abolished a number of the flood standards in an ‘attempt to get infrastructure projects approved more quickly’, writes The Independent.
One of those protections abolished is the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard which made it harder to build roads and bridges in areas that were susceptible to flooding.
The regulations, introduced by Obama in 2015, had not yet come into effect but they were scrapped after Trump decided they’d slow down plans for new building projects.
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His decision was announced earlier this month, when he said:
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.
However, some of those safeguards have now been removed. The order also introduces a two-year time limit for permission to be granted for major infrastructure projects, in which Mr Trump has pledged to invest $1 trillion.
The move was praised by business groups (surprise, surprise) but it was strongly opposed by environmentalists.
Rachel Cleetus, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, told The Independent:
It will lead to more costly and damaging consequences of these floods. And frankly, it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars if money is invested in projects that will just get washed away.
Even as we’re seeing flood risk growing in many places around the country – due to sea level rise, heavy rainfall, and other types of factors – it just flies in the face of common sense to turn back progress on greater flood prevention that communities depend on.
It would be a serious mistake to rebuild without taking account of future flood risks in the wake of terrible tragedies such as Texas is currently experiencing with Hurricane Harvey.
The storm was predicted to be so dangerous residents not planning on evacuating the coastal town of Rockport were asked by the mayor to write their social security number on their arms to help identify their bodies.