Trump Administration Reconsiders Rollback of Obama-Era Flood Rules
In August, President Trump signed an executive order that he said would streamline the approval process for building infrastructure such as roads, bridges, and offices by eliminating a planning step related to climate change and flood dangers. The executive order revokes an earlier executive order by former President Obama that required recipients of federal funds to strongly consider risk-management standards when building in flood zones, including measures such as elevating structures from the reach of rising water. Obama’s Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, established in 2015, sought to mitigate the risk of flood damage charged to taxpayers when property owners file costly claims.
In revoking the flood standard last month, Trump shelved two significant rules that were waiting to be finalized. One, at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, would have required that construction projects funded through its assistance programs be built between two and three feet above the 100-year flood elevation in an expanded flood plain, depending on whether they represented critical infrastructure. The second, at Housing and Urban Development, would have mandated new or substantially improved HUD-financed projects, such as multifamily housing complexes, be built two feet higher in an expanded flood plain area.
Now, in the wake of destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey, the Trump administration is considering whether to issue similar requirements to build higher in flood-prone areas as the government prepares to spend billions of dollars in response to the storm.