Fact Checking Claim – Trump Cut Flood-Proofing Regulations

Fact check: Did Trump cut flood-proofing regulations?

Verbatem Fact Checking
Amée LaTour
November 7, 2017

Following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, a video by media company ATTN: claimed that the United States “can learn a lot from how the Netherlands prevents floods.” According to text in the video, “Regulations for flood-proof buildings [in the U.S.] have actually been cut.”

Is that accurate? Have regulations for flood-proof buildings in the U.S. been cut?

No. President Donald Trump in August revoked proposed guidelines and standards for construction of federal projects near floodplains.  Neither the guidelines nor the standards were issued as regulations by any government agency.

ATTN: produces issue-oriented video content for social media. Its video, “Flood Prevention in America vs. Flood Prevention in the Netherlands,” first features various methods used by the Dutch to prevent flooding, such as floating houses and floodgates. The video then states that, in America, “We’ve got out-of-control flooding,” and, “Regulations for flood-proof buildings have actually been cut.” The video has received more than 14 million views on Facebook.

Between the middle of August and the end of September, hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria made landfall in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has not completed its damage assessments, but various estimates peg insured losses at tens of billions of dollars.

According to a report by the Government Accountability Office, the federal government obligated at least $277.6 billion in disaster assistance (both emergency relief and mitigation) from 2005 through 2014 across 17 departments and agencies.

Obama’s executive order
The federal government and states administer a variety of flood-related regulations in an effort to mitigate damages from natural disasters.

President Jimmy Carter in 1977 issued Executive Order 11988, which required federal agencies to evaluate flood hazards related to federal projects and avoid to the extent possible any actions that would adversely affect floodplains, such as development.

If there is no alternative to impacting a floodplain, the project had to be constructed above base flood level, defined as the anticipated level of a flood with a one percent or greater chance of occurring in a year.

President Barack Obama amended Carter’s order in 2015 by issuing Executive Order 13690.

Executive Order 13690 established a new Federal Flood Risk Management Standard. The new standard expanded the area considered a floodplain and raised the elevation level for federal projects in floodplains. It also allowed agencies to choose among several methods for delineating the floodplain area. The proposed standard would have applied to projects funded or permitted by the federal government, not those funded privately or by states.

The Obama order also directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to propose for public comment a set of guidelines for agencies to follow in implementing the new standard. The comment period expired in May 2017, but the draft guidelines were never finalized by the Water Resources Council (as directed by President Obama’s executive order). Consequently, no agency implemented the new standard.

Trump’s executive order
President Trump on August 15, 2017, revoked his predecessor’s proposed guidelines and floodplain standard, leaving the pre-existing standard in effect.

Trump’s order states that “[i]nefficiencies in current infrastructure project decisions, including management of environmental reviews and permit decisions or authorizations, have delayed infrastructure investments, increased project costs, and blocked the American people from enjoying improved infrastructure that would benefit our economy, society, and environment.”

A video by media company ATTN: asserts that the United States “can learn a lot from how the Netherlands prevents floods.” Text in the video claims that, in America, “Regulations for flood-proof buildings have actually been cut.”

The claim is false, because the standard was never finalized as a regulation.

Source (all emphasis is mine)


The Holland Story

When roughly 25% of the country of Holland lies below sea level and 70% of  its economic output is generated there, then there is talk of significant matter of flooding to consider.  Without its complex network of dikes, flood basins and sea defences, Holland would be literally be up the creek without a paddle. Additionally, if the nationwide network of pumping stations failed, within a week the entire country would be under 1 metre (3 feet) of water. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the flood protection systems that guarantee the safety of the lowlands are evolving and becoming more sophisticated.

Bad weather in early 2012 battered the country and severely tested their system. They have had a very long time (roughly a 1,000 years) to develop and refine their response in case of flooding.  Dutch citizens, however, are prepared for these sorts of threats and a panoply of preventive measures swung into action, including inflatable dams, storm surge barriers and emergency flood basins.

The problem has always been that in natural disasters like floods response time is set up to take place AFTER the disaster strikes. So Holland’s top people decided to be pro-active and plan for ways to divert or mitigate flooding in a pre-planned program would be preferable. So they are turning to more cutting edge high-tech methods to help them feel more like they are preventing rather than recuperating when disaster strikes.

The Flood Control 2015 program they developed was based on findings from a 2013 pilot program. It was submitted and then integrated so that the dike, the decision-maker, and the environment would  provide more advance accuracy in forecasting and decision-supporting systems. They have also begun monitoring things from outer space.

Local businesses and large companies with specialties in this area used their expertise to refine the more modern approach. Their building in flood control locations versus needs, both non-disaster and post disaster, have had to be carefully considered in construction planning, preparation, and completion.  Keeping information up-to-date with evolving tech will not just be a one-time discussion but more than likely will be written into their protocol for long-term planning. Yet even that evolves as each new crisis occurs.

Dutch water-management experts are currently providing expertise all over the world, from New Orleans, to St. Petersburg and Jakarta. This work has been taken on by a Dutch consortium of private companies and research institutes (free enterprise at work). The knowledge gained can be applied in a range of other countries and could lead to some very beneficial spin-offs.



In Trump’s EO it states “More efficient and effective Federal infrastructure decisions can transform our economy, so the Federal Government, as a whole, must change the way it processes environmental reviews and authorization decisions.” Which to me doesn’t say more rules upon rules but simply get rid of the overabundance of stalling and stalemates to make sure we DO get the infrastructure improvements necessary to be more safe as well as provide employment. While rules are important having ten or twenty of them when one or two would cover the same process make sno sense.

Just because his wording focuses on employment does not mean that Trump isn’t well aware of the consequences of not completing projects.  As a builder, I am sure he is very aware of the madness involved in government work permission. But of course, that is another nasty stalling point liberals don’t choose to focus on.  They seem conveniently to forget that turning a faucet on or preventing a dam from breaking ONLY GET DONE if someone does the work and that only happens if the proper government paperwork and repercussions of dealing with the environmentalists is completed. By the time approval has finally been given cost overruns, government red tape, and legal fees have all but a few walking away.

A review by Project Management Research in April 2017 puts its finger on the pressure points of why such projects have not been completed.  (including stalling, constant changes for issues, and corruption) Politico and other MSM, of course, don’t want to hear their reasons. They simply want to attribute all to Trump not providing enough nominees fast enough to fill positions. We all know that is NOT the problem. That is the senate’s problem. He has well over 100 nominees for different posts that have not been approved — some as far back as February.

Again a liberal tilted media group has tried to find a way to sling mud on Trump in hopes it creates a furor and sticks.  

Try researching all the aspects before reporting. I agree it would be a topic of concern IF we could believe all that we read. Doesn’t appear that it is possible anymore.

It didn’t take long to find the information above that would have been helpful and provide facts for those who are interested and want to learn more in-depth information.

Seems as if this is one more case where false alarms will eventually fall on tone-deaf ears and then what will they do?  Write facts, that is a novel idea.  


About Uriel

Retired educator and constitutionalist
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6 Responses to Fact Checking Claim – Trump Cut Flood-Proofing Regulations

  1. Whitetop says:

    The Dutch have been claiming land from the sea for many years and probably are the most skilled engineers when it comes to hydraulics. What they can’t overcome is corruption. US taxpayers have paid for improvements to the levee system along the Mississippi but the reason the system failed during Hurricane Katrina was because the money was never spent to make the improvements. Where that money went is still a mystery and will continue to be so because there haven’t been any investigations. Maybe the government doesn’t want to find out.

    • SafeSpace says:

      Whitetop: The media and government did their best to hide where the NOLA levee monies went, because Democrat administration headed by a person of colour (Ray Nagin) was deeply involved in the scam.

  2. Uriel says:

    for some reason the old Lisa Minnelli song comes running through my mind

    Money makes the world go around
    …the world go around
    …the world go around
    Money makes the world go aroung
    Of that we both are sure…
    *rasberry sound* on being poor!

    Maybe because having had an father-in-law at one time who worked (and quit) on a levee board gave me some insight..

  3. SafeSpace says:

    If you want to minimize the amount of construction in flood plains, end the sale of federally-subsidized flood insurance policies at below-market rates. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is largely funded by we taxpayers, and makes inexpensive flood insurance available to property owners who might otherwise not be able to get it on the private insurance market. Why? Because private underwriters wisely price such insurance at high dollar amounts, knowing that their risk exposure is above average. As soon as Uncle Sam steps in with his deep pockets, the market becomes distorted, and folks build in high-risk areas because they know they can get cheap insurance. I would argue that the issuance of NFIP policies should be limited to existing properties, and denied to property owners proposing to build new structures in flood plains. No need to pass regulations on who can build where, just let the marketplace work it out. As always, follow the money for answers and solutions.

    • Uriel says:

      Excellent comment. It is also telling when construction of residential areas are allowed free rein in deep flood zone areas without informing prospective homeowners or reducing risks. They slap up housing meant for quick dollars but wash their hands of responsibility because they know Feds will fix issues. Things like drainage canals could and do in some cases help. But they aren’t required to do that in preconstruction phase when it is easiest.

    • Whitetop says:

      Problem is, developers spend lots of lobbying money and so they keep the NFIP going, build in areas where there should be no building, collect their money, get the hell out and leave it to the taxpayers to bail out the unfortunate.

      BTW, Ragin Nagin wasn’t the first corrupt politician to scam the levee system in NOLA. It goes way back. There are levee districts along both sides of the Mississippi River and each has a responsibility to maintain the levee in their district.