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Order would cut flood planning for new structures

Order would cut flood planning for new structures

This week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to streamline and quicken the process to build the nation's infrastructure, the New York Times reports.

"No longer will we allow the infrastructure of our magnificent country to crumble and decay", Trump said at the news conference.

The order would set a two-year goal for completing permits needed on major infrastructureplans, and create a "one Federal decision" protocol that would appoint a lead federal agency to work with other agencies to complete the environmental reviews and permitting for infrastructureprojects.

The Trump administration has said it plans to release a legislative package by this fall to meet the president's pledge to invest $1 trillion to upgrade USA infrastructure. But the flooding measure was left off of the final list of nixed orders. USDOT says the policy of "One Federal Decision" will make the federal government speak with one voice regarding the environmental review and permitting of a major infrastructure project. But it was roundly condemned by green groups, who argued it was just the latest move in the Trump administration's attempt to roll back regulations that would tackle the climate risks the USA faces. As Jay Price of member station WUNC reported for NPR earlier this year, the president told the federal government that it didn't need to treat climate change as a national security threat - despite the fact that rising sea levels pose a flooding hazard to military bases.

The Obama-era standard required that builders factor in scientific projections for how climate change could affect flooding in a certain area and ensure projects can withstand rising sea levels and stronger downpours.

"We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals", Trump said in his campaign victory speech on November 9.

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Floods are already the most common natural disaster in the USA, costing more than $260 billion in flood-related damages between 1980 to 2013, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The order is meant to eliminate and streamline some of the permitting regulations needed to construct federally-funded roads, bridges, pipelines and other infrastructure.

Trump said regulations have made the USA "literally like a third-world country".

The Obama administration's order covered only public infrastructure projects.

A real estate developer, he has called for $200 billion in direct federal spending on infrastructure in his 2018 budget - and a $1 trillion investment, including money from the private sector. "We disagree with (Tuesday's) executive order, and hope the president will reconsider his decision so that our country can reduce the loss of lives and property to disasters and reduce the amount of taxpayer dollars spent on rebuilding and repairing communities after a major storm strikes".

"There's obviously legitimate things to be done to speed up infrastructure, but saying that we're not going to pay attention to flood risks is not the way to do it", Lehrer said.


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