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WASHINGTON, D.C. Today, U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) urged President Trump to reverse his decision made last month to revoke a safeguard that ensures federal buildings, roads, bridges, and other pieces of infrastructure are built to withstand extreme weather events, such as Hurricane Harvey. The Senators also indicated plans to introduce legislation in the coming days to codify the critical safeguard into law. 

The Federal Flood Risk Management Standard was updated by President Obama in 2015 based on lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy. A higher standard was adopted to ensure federally funded rebuilding projects were built stronger and more resilient to extreme weather events, including 500-year storms. However, less than a month ago, President Trump rolled back the standard. 

“As millions of Americans suffer the devastating impacts of extreme flooding from Hurricane Harvey, we write to express our serious concerns regarding your dangerous and misguided decision last month to revoke the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard,” the Senators wrote in a letter to President Trump.

“As Congress works to provide relief to communities…we urge you to reverse your decision and reinstate the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard. Please take action at the executive level to ensure that the billions of taxpayer dollars [that will be spent to rebuild communities devastated by Hurricane Harvey] are not wasted on building infrastructure that is vulnerable to destruction and that threatens American lives.” 

The Federal Flood Risk Management Standard provided agencies with several options for meeting the guidelines, including building projects that could withstand a 500-year storm.

 

Full text of the letter is below.

       September 5, 2017

The Honorable Donald J. Trump

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue 

Washington, D.C. 20500 

Dear President Trump: 

As millions of Americans suffer the devastating impacts of extreme flooding from Hurricane Harvey, we write to express our serious concerns regarding your dangerous and misguided decision last month to revoke the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard. In 2015, President Obama issued an updated flood standard to ensure that federally-funded projects in a floodplain, such as roads, bridges, hospitals, and other infrastructure, are built to withstand extreme weather and flooding driven by climate change. As Congress works to provide relief to communities as they begin rebuilding after the most significant rainfall event in United States history, we urge you to reverse your decision and reinstate the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard.  

This common-sense, flexible approach provided agencies with many different options for complying with the new standard, including taking into account available climate science or building to withstand a 500-year storm—the same kind of destructive event that the residents of eastern Texas just endured. The decision to revoke this standard is fiscally irresponsible and potentially life-threatening. It will result in the federal government spending billions of dollars to construct projects that are vulnerable to destruction from future storms. 

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force adopted a higher flood standard in order to ensure that federally-funded rebuilding projects were built stronger and more resilient to extreme weather events. The lessons learned after Hurricane Sandy informed the Obama Administration’s decision to implement this rule, which would save taxpayer dollars, protect our infrastructure, and improve the safety and welfare of communities across the United States.

As the Administration begins working on the rebuilding effort for those communities devastated by Hurricane Harvey, we urge you to look to the work completed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Please take action at the executive level to ensure that the billions of taxpayer dollars are not wasted on building infrastructure that is vulnerable to destruction and that threatens American lives. While we are encouraged by statements made by White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert indicating the need to implement strong flood standards, we believe these standards are of great national importance and will therefore be introducing legislation to codify the 2015 order.   

We look forward to your prompt attention to this important issue.

      Sincerely,