Wednesday, October 18, 2017

America’s Climate Refugees Have Been Abandoned by Trump

The Obama administration was slowly working on a plan to deal with the problem.  The Trump administration isn’t interested.

President Donald Trump visits Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. (Credit: Evan Vucci/AP) Click to Enlarge.
As hurricane after hurricane ravages Puerto Rico and the Gulf Coast, the Trump administration has quietly walked away from a government-wide effort to help the growing number of American communities whose very existence is threatened by climate change.

In the final year of the Obama administration, nearly a dozen federal agencies—led by the Department of Housing and Urban Development—began laying the groundwork for a cohesive federal approach to the so-called climate refugee problem.  In December 2016 a top HUD official signed a memorandum of understanding, which would have committed these agencies to work together to develop a strategy for relocating homes, infrastructure, and—in some cases—entire municipalities put at risk by rising seas, melting permafrost, and more dangerous storms.

But since then, the group has done nothing, according to current and former officials familiar with the effort.  No other agency appears to have signed off on HUD’s plan, and it has never gone into effect.

It might not be surprising that a president who calls global warming a Chinese hoax would be slow to address its impacts.  But for those in the most vulnerable parts of the country, there’s no time to wait.  With each severe storm comes the prospect of evacuation and destruction.  Thousands are left temporarily displaced or stranded.  This cycle, made worse with climate change, is becoming too much for some residents; relocation may soon be their only option.  But without a clear government plan to address the problem—and pay for a solution—finding a new home will be all but impossible.

Read more at America’s Climate Refugees Have Been Abandoned by Trump

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