President Donald Trump is rolling back some of the Obama administration's infrastructure standards that require projects be built to withstand climate change repercussions, like rising sea levels.
"We're going to get infrastructure built quickly, inexpensively, relatively speaking, and the permitting process will go very, very quickly," explained Trump in a press conference at Trump Tower in New York City on Aug. 15, reports NPR.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao says the Trump administration discarded standards to "slash the time it takes" to approve new projects. Officials say this will save taxpayer money.
"The poor condition of America's infrastructure has been estimated to cost a typical American household thousands of dollars each year," reads a White House press release. "Inefficiencies 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."
Former President Barack Obama initially signed the order in 2015 to help communities survive global warming. It particularly benefited taxpayer-funded projects in areas susceptible to flooding, and was intended to protect the public's financial investments.
But Obama's order never went into effect -- and now never will.
Environmental groups have expressed concern over the reversal.
"This is climate science denial at its most dangerous, as Trump is putting vulnerable communities, federal employees and families at risk by throwing out any guarantee that our infrastructure will be safe," Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said.
Some argue flooding, already the deadliest natural disaster in the U.S. according to NASA, will now claim even more lives nationwide.
"While many Americans may think flooding is only a problem for coastal regions prone to hurricanes and tropical storms, it is far more widespread than that and can devastate any state or region across the country," Robert Moore of the Natural Resources Defense Council and Franklin Nutter of the Reinsurance Association of America argues in a piece for Politico. "In just the past five years, all 50 states have experienced flood damage."
But while Trump released the new order on Aug. 15, many Americans remain unaware of it.
The rollback was announced at the same time the president sparked international controversy for his remarks on violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a white supremacist allegedly drove his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring 19.
"What about the alt left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt right?" said Trump. "Do they have any semblance of guilt?"
News of his latest Obama-era reversal was lost in the outrage over his statements.