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Trump Ends Flood Rule, Accelerates Reviews

Friday, August 18, 2017

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On Tuesday (Aug. 15) President Donald J. Trump issued an executive order on Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure, which intends to streamline the environmental review process and effectively overturns flood regulations put in place by the previous administration.

President Trump
U.S. Department of Labor

President Donald J. Trump's new executive order seeks to streamline the environmental review and permitting process for new infrastructure projects and rolls back an Obama administration rule on building in flood-prone areas.

According to the document, the rule aims “to ensure that the federal environmental review and permitting process for infrastructure projects is coordinated, predictable and transparent."

‘One Federal Decision,’ Floodplain Rollback

The order establishes a maximum two-year process for permits and approvals for major projects, and creates a process called “One Federal Decision,” in which one federal agency takes the lead on permitting for a given project, and works with secondary agencies on permit issues.

The new rule also entirely revokes the Executive Order Establishing Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input, signed by former President Barack Obama in 2015. That rule had required that infrastructure projects receiving federal funds, as well as hospitals and schools, be built on higher ground than was previously necessary. It also called for the inclusion of up-to-date climate science in determining floodplains.

Last year, in accordance with the Obama executive order, the Federal Emergency Management Agency proposed rulemaking that would require all new road and other projects that are federally funded to be built at least 2 feet above the 100-year floodplain. Hospitals and schools would be required to be built 3 feet above the 500-year floodplain.

Industry, Policy Response

Some in the building industry responded positively to the new executive order, noting that the move brings down some regulatory barriers.

© / banksphotos

An executive order issued by President Obama had restricted building near the 100-year floodplain on federally funded projects, but the new order from President Trump nullifies the rule.

The American Petroleum Institute says the order will help the oil and gas industry to speed up projects and create jobs.

“We welcome the administration’s action to streamline the regulatory process in developing and transporting our nation’s oil and natural gas resources,” API’s president CEO, Jack Gerard, said in a statement. “It is good for our economy, consumers, and strengthening our national security.”

"NAHB commends President Trump for signing this executive order that rescinds the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, an overreaching environmental rule that needlessly hurt housing affordability,” said Granger McDonald, president of the National Association of Home Builders. “The FFRMS posed unanswered regulatory questions that would force developers to halt projects and raise the cost of housing. This action by President Trump will provide much-needed regulatory relief for the housing community and help American home buyers."

But some expressed worry that the rollback of the flood management rule could have detrimental effects, including a long-term cost to taxpayers.

“We can either build smarter now, or put taxpayers on the hook to pay exponentially more when it floods,” former FEMA public affairs director Rafael Lemaitre told Reuters. “And it will."

“The Trump administration’s decision to overturn this is a disaster for taxpayers and the environment,” Eli Lehrer, of the fiscally conservative R Street Institute told The New York Times.


Tagged categories: Good Technical Practice; Government; Infrastructure; North America; Oil and Gas; President Trump

Comment from Jesse Melton, (8/18/2017, 3:54 PM)

The insurance policy on my primary residence includes acts of war, acts of terrorism, debris from domestic and foreign spacecraft and airplanes and even personal defamation. Adding flood insurance doubled the cost of the policy. I just built a wall instead. Self serving stuff like this is exactly what we don't need. Building below the waterline also greatly hampers cleanup efforts. A muddy mess turns into an open sewer biohazard.
I wonder how much property the President owns that's about to have a pipeline, pump station or maintenance depot built on it?

Comment from Andrew Piedl, (10/5/2017, 2:27 PM)

Seems like such a great idea in hindsight.

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