Did President Trump nix Obama's executive order on flooding 10 days before Hurricane Harvey?
Yes, with his own executive order.
Former President Obama Executive Order: "Flood Risk Management Standard"
President Trump Executive Order: "Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure"
Chad Berginnis, Executive Director for the Association of State Floodplain Managers
NOAA National Hurricane Center Annual Summary
It started with viral articles claiming that President Trump had issued an executive order that scrapped Obama's executive order, which established additional safety precautions for permitting roads, bridges and federal buildings in floodplains.
Floodplains are areas that sit in low-lying grounds adjacent to rivers.
First we looked into President Obama's executive order. Issued on January 30, 2015, Obama set out to make all new federal construction at least two feet higher than the 100-year flood line level, a standard first introduced by Jimmy Carter 40 years ago. That was just one precautionary option for new buildings.
Obama issued the executive order in the wake of Hurricane Sandy aftermath, whose preliminary damaged totaled $50 billion, according to a NOAA report.
President Trump, just 10 days before Hurricane Harvey published his own executive order, revoking the two-foot standards announced under Obama. Trump rolled out the executive order on August 15, 2017 saying he would cut through the red tape that's hindering road, bridge and infrastructure construction.
Verify researchers spoke with Chad Berginnis, who specializes in floodplain managing. He says making sure buildings and bridges are flood-safe, doesn't suspend construction.
"Good flood risk management is not mutually exclusive with expedited permitting," Berginnis said. "I mean floodplain managers issue thousands of permits per year for projects and they do it pretty quickly."
While social media roils over the clashing executive orders, it's important to note that President Obama's higher flood safety standards never got the chance to take effect and Trump's executive order, removing the two feet additional precautions, has no start date.