Nov 16, 2017 - Science

Why lawyers everywhere are watching Houston after Harvey

A submerged pickup truck remains in a neighborhood which was flooded when the Barker Reservoir reached capacity in the aftermath of Harvey. Photo: Charlie Riedel / AP

"The U.S. Flooded One of Houston's Richest Neighborhoods to Save Everyone Else," Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its cover story: "The Army Corps of Engineers sent water cascading into West Houston's Energy Corridor to avoid a catastrophic reservoir failure during Hurricane Harvey."

Why it matters: "[A] web of lawsuits could change how the government handles extreme weather."

  • "In New Orleans, economically disadvantaged communities, some of them historically black, bore the brunt of the loss, with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of deaths. The victims in West Houston include white, wealthy, Republican-voting energy executives. ... Their debris piles include wine fridges, coffee table books about Renoir, and Chinese bar carts from overseas assignments."
  • The legal significance: "[T]he takings clause could ... become 'a kind of social insurance program for risk associated with climate change.'"
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