President Donald Trump will rescind an Obama administration policy requiring government agencies to take into account global warming-induced flooding and sea level rise for federally-funded projects.
Trump will repeat the climate order that President Barack Obama signed in 2015 as part of a broader effort to streamline infrastructure permitting. Administration officials said the current process is long and cumbersome.
“For far too long, critical projects have been delayed by duplicative permitting and environmental requirements which added time and unnecessary expenses to much needed projects,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement obtained by Bloomberg.
Trump wants to push a $200 billion infrastructure spending bill through Congress this fall, which he hopes will mobilize $800 billion in state and private funding. A cumbersome permitting process could hold up infrastructure projects.
Furthermore, Obama’s executive order to “improve the resilience of communities and federal assets against the impacts of flooding” could increase the upfront costs or even eliminate projects in the pipeline.
Obama wrote sea level rise and flooding are “anticipated to increase over time due to the effects of climate change and other threats.”
Obama’s order required federally-funded projects to be two feet above the 100-year floodplain. Hospitals and other critical buildings must be three feet above the historic floodplain.
The Obama administration also issued a rule requiring federally-financed single family homes must be built two feet above the 100-year floodplain. The National Association of Home Builders worried this rule could increase construction costs and make it harder to build low-income affordable housing.
Environmentalists were critical of Trump’s plan to rollback the 2015 order, as was the right-leaning R Street Institute.
“Taxpayers have been made to shell out hundreds of billions of dollars in disaster-related spending over the past decade, including more than $136 billion for just the two years from 2011 to 2013,” senior fellow R.J. Lehmann said in a statement.
“By contrast, evidence shows that every $1 spent on disaster mitigation can save $4 in post-disaster recovery and rebuilding costs,” Lehmann said.
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