The Obama-era standard required that builders factor in scientific projections for how climate change could affect flooding in a certain area and ensure projects can withstand rising sea levels and stronger downpours.
Trump assembled an infrastructure task force, which has already identified "more than two dozen policies and rules that will streamline project delivery and environmental permitting", according to Chao.
Climate scientists warn that sea levels will rise substantially in the coming decades, and they say that long-term infrastructure projects will probably face more frequent and serious flood risks. Other more critical structures, like hospitals, were required to be built 3 feet above that line.
Rafael Lemaitre, the public affairs director for the Federal Emergency Management Agency under Obama, told The Hill that the Obama-era standard is the "most significant action taken in a generation" to protect American infrastructure. The president said eliminating "the consultants" and having one lead agency for each infrastructure project would be the key.
The sweeping change is included in an executive order on federal permitting for infrastructure projects that Trump is slated to sign Tuesday in New York City, E&E News reported. According to to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), the United States has experienced increasingly frequent, and costly, inland flood events in recent years due to more intense precipitation associated with climate change.
"There's obviously legitimate things to be done to speed up infrastructure, but saying that we're not going to pay attention to flood risks is not the way to do it", Lehrer said.
"We're like a third-world country when it comes to infrastructure", former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said in 2016, during then-President Barack Obama's tenure. The council is not meeting its potential, the White House said at the time.
A fact sheet the administration released with its budget on May 23 calls for designating a single federal entity to shepherd each project through the review and permitting process instead of navigating multiple agencies, as well as shifting infrastructure permitting to state and local officials where appropriate.
Democrats have urged the administration to focus on the streamlining provisions that have already been approved but not yet fully implemented and said the problem is really a lack of direct federal spending for projects.
"Of course, accomplishing the stated goals of the EO will depend on the commitment of the wide range of federal offices with a role in infrastructure permitting", Santa said.
AOPL spokesman John Stoody added that "there is no reason thorough, environmentally protective federal reviews of proposed pipeline projects need to take as long as they do now".