From Surviving to Thriving -- Federal Resilience Standards

by Daniel Farber | September 07, 2018

This post is part of CPR's From Surviving to Thriving: Equity in Disaster Planning and Recovery report. Click here to read previously posted chapters.

On August 15, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order to expedite federal infrastructure-related decisions by allowing only 90 days for permit decisions and cutting back on flood safety requirements. Enthusiastic Republicans hailed the step. For instance, Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA) said he was “thrilled by Mr. Trump’s decision.” He dismissed catastrophic flooding in Louisiana the previous year as an “isolated event,” saying that the “bigger threat . . . is from costly regulations.” Ten days later, Hurricane Harvey hit Texas and western Louisiana.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, or so goes the maxim. It could hardly be more apt than in the case of flood mitigation projects, since investments in resilience pay for themselves many times over when natural disasters strike. For instance, according to a recent report:

Recent studies have indicated that every dollar spent building or improving buildings to comply with the newer codes saves four dollars in damages. . . . [T]he return on investment in building to the upgraded codes parallels similar investment in efforts to create a more resilient infrastructure. Studies have indicated that it’s possible to receive a 6:1 rate of return on federal grants that have been provided for in mitigation efforts, including enhancing the infrastructure.


Houston Chronicle Op-Ed: Burying Our Head in Sand on Climate Change No Longer an Option

by Victor Flatt | September 29, 2017
This op-ed originally ran in the Houston Chronicle. Every day during the Hurricane Harvey disaster, our hearts would sink as we kept hearing the word "unprecedented" again and again. Harvey wasn't supposed to strengthen so fast; it shouldn't have stalled where it did. Every day as we hoped the worst was over, Harvey would pummel us even harder. Everything was outside the norm, breaking all records. Over 50 inches of rain. Houston's "wettest month in recorded history." High river marks exceeded ...

CPR Scholarship Roundup: Resilience and Adaptive Management -- Protecting Natural Resources in a Changing World

by Shana Campbell Jones | August 11, 2009
One of the ongoing tensions in environmental law is the conflict between uniformity and flexibility, constancy and change. Many of the environmental successes over the past thirty years derive from uniform standards that are straightforward to administer and enforce. The Clean Water Act’s requirement, for example, that all industrial polluters are obligated to utilize the same end-of-pipe, technology-based pollution controls is responsible for dramatically cleaning up our waters. There are, of course, still more low-hanging fruit to be addressed under ...

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