Trump struck down Obama’s flood risk regulations two weeks before Harvey

Donald Trump signed away Obama-era flood standards just weeks before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in a bid to get infrastructure projects approved more quickly.

The rule signed by former president Barack Obama in 2015 had not yet come into effect but aimed to make infrastructure more resilient to the effects of climate change, such as rising sea levels and flooding.

Those who backed Obama’s rules believed they would make people safer by putting roads, bridges and other infrastructure on safer ground, NPR reported, but Trump rescinded the rule several weeks ago in an attempt to speed up the time it takes for infrastructure projects to be approved.

Speaking from New York when he announced the rollback of the rules on Tuesday, August 15, Trump 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,” added Trump, who previously promised he would pass a $1 trillion package intended to improve the country’s infrastructure, although this is yet to materialize.

Trump’s decision to roll back the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard was praised by business groups including the National Association of Home Builders, who felt flood regulations had pushed up the cost of housing, but faced criticism from environmental groups, Reuters reported.

Former director of public affairs at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Rafael Lemaitre told the news service at the time that Trump was undoing “the most significant action taken in a generation” to protect infrastructure from climate change.

“Eliminating this requirement is self-defeating; we can either build smarter now, or put taxpayers on the hook to pay exponentially more when it floods. And it will,” he added.

This articles was published on