President Trump's astonishing press conference on Tuesday was, ostensibly, an announcement about infrastructure. But his brief remarks on the permitting process were entirely overshadowed by his defense of attendees at a white supremacist rally, among other remarks.
But the president was, in fact, announcing a new executive order with serious repercussions. Among other things, he is rolling back an Obama-era order that infrastructure projects, like roads and bridges, be designed to survive rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change.
The executive order was meant to protect taxpayer dollars spent on projects in areas prone to flooding and to improve "climate resilience" across the U.S. — that is, communities' ability to cope with the consequences of global warming.
President Barack Obama signed the order in 2015, but the changes have not taken effect; FEMA has been soliciting input and drafting new rules.
Now, the order has been revoked as part of an effort to "slash the time it takes" to approve new infrastructure projects, as Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao put it in a statement.
Speaking at Trump Tower in New York City, Trump said, "We're going to get infrastructure built quickly, inexpensively, relatively speaking, and the permitting process will go very, very quickly." Few details were revealed in that news conference, but the text of the order has since been published and it specifically revokes Obama's flood risk rules.
Supporters say the Obama flood rules would protect lives, by positioning new roads and buildings on safer ground, and protect financial investments by ensuring that infrastructure projects last as long as they were intended. Some business advocates have objected, saying the new rules would increase the cost of new construction.
You can read the rest at NPR.