We stop subsidizing stupidity, regulate where they can build
Fri Sep 1, 2017 9:45am

Again, from the article:
Just 10 days before Harvey struck, the president signed an executive order that rescinded federal flood protection standards put in place by his predecessor, Barack Obama. FEMA and the US Housing and Urban Development Department, the two federal agencies that will handle most of the huge pile of cash expected for the rebuilding of Houston, would have been forced to require any rebuilding to confirm to new, safer codes. Now, they won’t.

Obama had greatly expanded the number of wetlands protected by the Clean Water Act. This federal law requires developers who destroy wetlands to mitigate the ecological effects, for instance by creating new wetlands elsewhere. In February, the Trump administration said it would repeal Obama’s decision, meaning a lot more wetlands would lose that protection.

Not that Houston has ever been a stickler for federal rules. To get a permit under the Clean Water Act, developers who build in protected wetland areas must submit paperwork showing they’ve completed mitigation measures. In 2015, Texas A&M and non-profit research group HARC analyzed a sample of permits issued from 1990 to 2012 in the greater Houston area. They found that in fewer than half of the cases had the developers submitted complete paperwork, and in two thirds of the cases, there was no documentation that any type of mitigation had happened. Another study by the same two groups looked at a dozen projects that had obtained permits, and found that only two of them had successfully offset wetland destruction, seven were partially successful, and three were complete failures.

And that’s only projects subject to federal regulations. The researchers found that the vast majority of wetland-disrupting activities aren’t subject to those rules. “The inevitable resultant freshwater wetland loss is therefore often uncounted and unmitigated,” they wrote.



If you get FEMA money to help you recover, you MUST follow regulations on wetland preservation.

Houston needs to STOP PAVING THEIR REMAINING WETLANDS. It's called "zoning". Other places have it for a reason. Houston needs zoning regulations.

"Should we start banning people from moving to a given area based on its carrying capacity?"

Yes. Of course. Why should we encourage behavior which is virtually guaranteed to cause a future disaster?

"And if it is AT carrying capacity (or over) should we start forcing people to move out?"

Certainly encouraging them to move. Property taxes come to mind as a means of doing that.

  • Do we prohibit folks from reproducing?Sprout, Fri Sep 1 8:36am
    Do we prohibit people from moving to a city like Houston? IMO population is ultimately the root of the problem. Human beings need places to live and places to work. And as long as there are ever more ... more
    • We stop subsidizing stupidity, regulate where they can build — Jeeves, Fri Sep 1 9:45am
      • Again, easy to say what NOT to do...Sprout, Fri Sep 1 9:55am
        But it doesn't say what TO do... Easy to say where NOT to build. But it doesn't say WHERE to put the houses and other support structures for the next 10K people in the Houston area... I guarantee you ... more
        • Stop breeding or die younger! (nm)PH👶👶EY, Mon Sep 11 12:19am
        • " So, in the 10 days between the executive order and the storm, all of these problems occurred? LOL... sure... let's blame Trump for stuff that happened before he was in office. " No, I'm blaming... more
          • live in cities like Houston, New Orleans, Los Angeles, etc... Interesting.
            • That would keep the population down,Jeeves, Fri Sep 1 4:53pm
              You could do it by lottery if you want. But the population in wetlands needs to be severely limited.
              • Interesting....Sprout, Fri Sep 1 6:20pm
                How remarkably discriminatory against the poor. It doesn't bother me, but I suspect the advocates for the poor would be unhappy with your proposal to price them out of many of the major cities.
                • It won't "price them out of the cities"Jeeves, Fri Sep 1 7:11pm
                  Only the wetlands. Which tend to flood anyway. The current system tends to concentrate the poor in flood-prone areas. Why not put the wealthy, who can afford the loss, in the floodplane?
                  • But why would they?Sprout, Fri Sep 1 7:37pm
                    If you make the flood prone areas more expensive the rich will buy up the non-flood prone areas. Rich folks generally didn't get rich by making foolish financial decisions. So, if you make the flood... more
                    • Let's just say I don't agree
                      • OK... I'm hard pressed to understand whySprout, Fri Sep 1 8:06pm
                        wealthy folks would intentionally choose to build on land that will be VASTLY more expensive tax wise voluntarily as opposed to building on land that would be much cheaper tax wise to build on?
                        • Now you understand Jeeves, Fri Sep 1 9:20pm
                          The goal is to have people NOT build on wetlands/floodplains. 8^)
                            • No you don't.HeavyHemi, Sat Sep 2 2:26pm
                              Why do you insist that something thinks or is saying something despite them telling you directly you're wrong?
                              • If not, who do you expect to END UP with it? By reducing the SUPPLY of a commodity without reducing the DEMAND for a commodity, how do you plan on AVOIDING a price increase? And if you don't, who do... more
                                • It's the tax structure that forces the destruction of the environment. In my county not so very long ago standing timber (TREES) was taxed. What did that encourage? Yep, you guessed it. Land holdings ... more
                                • You mean I can only use your metrics?HeavyHemi, Sat Sep 2 5:41pm
                                  That the ONLY way to implement policy is via taxation. Methinks you're repeating the same mistakes we point out to you time and time again: The argument you are having in your head, isn't the one... more
                                  • Taxation was the proposed solution...Sprout, Mon Sep 4 4:57pm
                                    Not my proposal, but the proposal we have been discussing. Care to offer a different proposal? One that WOULD in some way not only prevent construction on flood prone lands, but ALSO ensure that real ... more
                • Why do you believe only the poor live there?HeavyHemi, Fri Sep 1 6:23pm
                  How remarkably narrow minded...and of course not an honest and accurate reflection of the content of his post. Grow up.
    • Development should be permitted only if the consequences of development are addressed and how the consequences will be handled so that the consequences do not cause unintended problems...traffic,... more
      • Some other sucker's dime. Pikes, Fri Sep 1 10:06am
        Cheyenne Mountain is home of NORAD. Over the last three decades, developers built mostly large scale, mansionesque homes on the eastern flank of the mountain, adjacent to the wealthy area of the... more
      • they have already outstripped their water supply... They should perhaps be required to exile 30% of their population, or maybe more? Under what legal authority CAN Los Angeles do this? Again, easy to ... more
        • It's a great big Mexican sponge. (nm)PH👹🙏🏽EY, Thu Sep 14 3:24pm
        • Los Angeles should be allowed to expand Merlin, Fri Sep 1 10:07am
          subject to government regulations requiring development be permitted only if the consequences of development are addressed and how the consequences will be handled so that the consequences do not... more
          • of the resources available. Study up on the water wars that went on as LA annexed water resources. Plus look at all of the ecological damage done by farming all of that natural land to feed all of... more
            • Yes...we should do absolutely nothing.HeavyHemi, Fri Sep 1 6:28pm
              Maybe just laugh at your silly antics of posting extremes and dishonestly portraying what has been posted by others. Seriously, grow up. For certain Spout, things are not going to get better in some... more
              • This gets back to the question I have been asking. Not just what not to do. What to ACTUALLY do? And a plan must be ACTUALLY applicable in the real world. Simply pricing people out of homes isn't... more
          • Eric Berger summed it up pretty wellJeeves, Fri Sep 1 10:38am
            Eric Berger just published an account of what he went through in Houston during Harvey. It's a good read. I completely agree with his conclusion. This is probably the worst US flood storm ever, and... more
            • for a WORST CASE, he said about 25 inches... of course we got DOUBLE THAT... Yet it is remarkable how hindsight is 20/20... at least for this forecaster... Ours humbly admitted that foresight wasn't... more
            • One way Trump intervenedPikes, Fri Sep 1 1:23pm
              An Obama executive order Trump recently repealed required government notification of property owners who chose to rebuild on determined flood plain or flood drainage lands, that they did so at their... more
              • They gov't can alwasy be asked...Sprout, Fri Sep 1 6:27pm
                Lots of folks ASK FEMA and the federal gov't for all sorts of crap.... The proper answer I such cases is a simple and polite, "no." No reason to take extra effort to notify them. When they get denied ... more
                • This is differentPikes, Fri Sep 1 7:14pm
                  It requires people with lost property in a flood zone to be notified that for future reference, as per future needs, FEMA and other Federal assistance cannot be expected if they rebuild there.
          • Applied to CongressPikes, Fri Sep 1 10:22am
            Congressional spending could follow a similar model. Any bill submitted must include a plan for payment that does not add to the debt. No more unfunded mandates. If a bill doesn't have such a plan,... more