Trump or­der un­der­mines ef­forts to re­build bet­ter for fu­ture flood­ing

Rome News-Tribune - - NEWS - Re­place­ment Shades By Michael Biesecker and Joan Lowy As­so­ci­ated Press


WASH­ING­TON — Two weeks be­fore Har­vey’s flood wa­ters en­gulfed much of Hous­ton, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump qui­etly rolled back an or­der by his pre­de­ces­sor that would have made it eas­ier for storm-rav­aged com­mu­ni­ties to use fed­eral emer­gency aid to re­build bridges, roads and other struc­tures so they can bet­ter with­stand fu­ture dis­as­ters.

Now, with much of the na­tion’s fourth- largest city un­der­wa­ter, Trump’s move has new res­o­nance.

Crit­ics note the pres­i­dent’s or­der could force Hous­ton and other cities to re­build hos­pi­tals and high­ways in the same way and in the same flood-prone ar­eas.

“Re­build­ing while ig­nor­ing fu­ture flood events is like treat­ing some­one for lung can­cer and then giv­ing him a car­ton of cig­a­rettes on the way out the door,” said Michael Ger­rard, a pro­fes­sor of en­vi­ron­men­tal and cli­mate change law at Columbia Univer­sity. “If you’re go­ing to re­build after a bad event, you don’t want to ex­pose your­self to the same thing all over again.”

Trump’s ac­tion is one of sev­eral ways Don­ald Trump the pres­i­dent, who has called cli­mate change a hoax, has tried to wipe away for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ef­forts to make the United States more re­silient to threats posed by the chang­ing cli­mate.

The or­der Trump re­voked would have per­mit­ted the re­build­ing to take into ac­count cli­mate sci­en­tists’ pre­dic­tions of stronger storms and more fre­quent flood­ing.

Bridges and high­ways, for ex­am­ple, could be re­built higher, or with bet­ter drainage.

The foun­da­tion of a new fire sta­tion or hos­pi­tal might be el­e­vated an ex­tra 3 feet.

While sci­en­tists cau­tion against blam­ing spe­cific weather events like Har­vey on cli­mate change, warmer air and warmer wa­ter linked to global warm­ing have long been pro­jected to make such storms wet­ter and more in­tense.

Hous­ton, for ex­am­ple, has ex­pe­ri­enced three floods in three years that sta­tis­ti­cally were once con­sid­ered 1-in500-year events.

The gov­ern­ment was still in the process of im­ple­ment­ing Obama’s 2015 or­der when it was re­scinded. That means the old stan­dard — re­build­ing storm- rav­aged fa­cil­i­ties in the same way they had been built be­fore — is still in place.

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