Trump Disbands Group That Helped Make Communities Safer Ahead of Extreme Weather, Natural Disasters

Pam Wright
Published: December 5, 2017

The Trump administration has dissolved a multi-agency organization that was tasked with helping local officials prepare for and deal with extreme weather events and other natural disasters. 

Jesse Keenan, chairman of the group, told members of the panel Monday of the decision, saying it was the last time the panel would meet, Bloomberg News reports. Keenan told the news outlet in an email that the body was "one of the last federal bodies that openly talked about climate change in public." 

“I can say that we tried our best and we never self-censored!” he added. 

"It was a way of helping communities not only through the recovery process, but to help them adjust to a new normal, in ways that would make them more resilient to the next disaster," he told Bloomberg.

(MORE: Trump Disbands Climate Change Advisory Committee)

Formed in 2015 by the Obama administration, the Community Resilience Panel for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems was under the umbrella of the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology. The panel was comprised of representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, among other federal departments. Local city planners and other experts also played a role in planning. 

An American flag flies near homes that remained damaged and mostly untouched after Superstorm Sandy hit the coastline, on May 5, 2013, in Ortley Beach, New Jersey. Superstorm Sandy slammed into the New Jersey coastline in October 2012 causing approximately $29.4 billion in damage.
( Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The idea for the panel was born in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, which struck the East Coast in October 2012, resulting in an estimated $29.4 billion in damage. 

The dissolution of the panel is the latest in a sweeping roll-back of Obama-era climate change protection and adaptation policies. In August, the administration disbanded a 15-person advisory committee that helped communicate scientific climate change findings to businesses and government officials.

Members of the committee were quick to denounce that decision.

"It's short-sighted," Richard Moss, chair of the committee and senior scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Joint Global Change Research Institute, told weather.com in a phone interview. "I think future prosperity and quality of life will be diminished...people treat reports from these committees seriously, we were spending a lot of time and effort on it."


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