Federal Permitting process revokes climate change rules

On August 15, 2017, the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, signed a new environmental Executive Order intended to fast track he Federal environmental review and permitting process for infrastructure projects. This new EO revokes Executive Order 13690 of January 3, 2015 which established a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a process for soliciting and considering stakeholder input. The revoked EO required public infrastructure to withstand rising sea levels, a major issue in places like South Florida, one of the most vulnerable areas in the world to sea level rise, which has been affected by major flooding due to the effects of climate change.

The new EO gives broader authority to the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC), giving to its Executive Director authority to, “upon request of a FPISC member agency or a project sponsor, work with the lead agency or any cooperating and participating agencies to facilitate the environmental review and authorization process for any infrastructure project regardless of whether the project is a ‘covered project’ under 42 U.S.C. 4370m, including by resolving disputes and promoting early coordination.”  Sec. 5(f)(ii).

Carlos Curbelo, a Republican in the House of Representatives for South Florida, criticized the Order as a “false economy,” recognizing the reality of sea level rise and the risk of severe flooding affecting communities across the country, specially the City of Miami. Eliminating resilient solutions to tackle the effects of climate change could be a waste of taxpayers dollars, if additional adaptation measures have to be implemented to fix problems caused by major flooding due to sea level rises.