Development and disasters — A deadly combination well beyond Houston
The move was widely criticized as threatening the very infrastructure the president claimed to be trying to revive, including by the R Street Institute, an organization pursuing Reagan-era approaches to cutting disaster risk and preserving the environment.
The most vocal group cheering Trump’s decision was the National Association of Home Builders, which had fought the Obama plan.
R.J. Lehmann, a senior fellow at R Street Institute, noted that when Harvey came ashore northeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, on Aug. 25, as a Category 4 hurricane, it first struck barrier islands that are part of a 273-million-acre zone established under the Coastal Barrier Resources Act, signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1982. That law, later expanded in 1990, forbade federal subsidies for new development in relatively undeveloped coastal regions along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and Great Lakes, including for roads, housing and discounted flood insurance. He said private interests could still build there but at their own risk. His organization has estimated the law has saved taxpayers more than $1 billion and is trying to expand it, as well as reform state laws in similar ways.
“Where this storm made landfall, that area was protected and didn’t have federal subsidies,” he said. “That is a conservative approach to conservation.”