Even before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, with devastating impact on the infrastructure of a flooded Houston and other communities, the Trump administration was thinking and acting on flood-control policies.
Unfortunately, the president’s team was thinking about what corporate interests wanted, and acting on their behalf—even as specialists on flooding issues pleaded with the administration to do otherwise. On August 15, Trump and his team overturned an Obama-administration rule requiring that infrastructure projects, including roads and bridges, be designed to withstand the consequences of climate change—such as rising sea levels.
Experts in climate change, coastal management and environmental policy begged the administration to maintain the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard for “climate resilience.” The concern crossed traditional lines of ideology and partisanship, as free-market economic groups and Republican members of the House praised the standard.
But politically-influential real estate developers and builders lobbied for overturning Obama’s order. And they got their way, thanks in no small part to one of the industry’s most powerful allies in the administration, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
Since Trump took office on January 20, Chao and other presidential appointees have rushed to barter off critical decisions to the highest bidders in a crony capitalist frenzy the likes of which Washington has never before seen.
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