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Request Seeks Evidence That Trump's Reversal of Coastal Flood Protections Is Driven By Climate Denial, Contempt For Obama

Decision Makes Coastal Communities More Vulnerable to Storms Like Harvey


The Center for Biological Diversity filed a Freedom of Information Act request today seeking public records connected to President Trump's rollback of an Obama executive order and federal flood-protection rule.

Just 10 days before Harvey struck Texas, Trump issued an executive order revoking the Obama administration's Federal Flood Risk Management Standard. This standard required that federally funded infrastructure projects like highways, schools and airports be built to withstand flood damage, which will be worsened by climate change.

"Harvey's devastation illustrates the danger of Trump's order to disregard flood risks to life-sustaining infrastructure on our coasts," said Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center. "With climate change making storms like Harvey more powerful, slashing protections for the safety of millions of Americans in flood-prone areas is just unacceptable."

Through today's requests to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security, Office of Management and Budget, Council on Environmental Quality and Council on Economic Advisors, the Center aims to unearth the factors influencing the order. This includes looking for evidence that the Trump administration rescinded the flood-protection standard because it was grounded in climate science or because it was enacted by Obama -- or both.

Scientists warn that climate change is not only intensifying storms, but also making storm-related flooding deadlier. As the planet heats up, warmer air holds more moisture, which leads to more extreme rainfall and flooding during storms. As sea level rises, storm surges -- the massive walls of water pushed onto the coast -- are riding on a higher sea surface and cause flooding farther inland.

The National Centers for Environmental Information report that the United States is suffering more frequent and expensive flood events in recent years because of climate change. In 2016 inland flooding was the costliest type of natural disaster. Half the U.S. population lives in coastal communities that are vulnerable to flooding.

Trump and top officials such as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt have denied the fundamental facts of climate science.

"The death and destruction in south Texas offer a grim preview of the human cost of Trump's denial of science," Wolf said. "As we look at Hurricane Harvey's devastating effects, Americans need to know why Trump refuses to protect coastal communities from future catastrophic flooding."

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

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