Economy

Trump Signs Executive Order to Reform Nations "Badly Broken" Infrastructure Permitting Process

Trump Signs Executive Order to Reform Nations

Though President Donald Trump used his press conference yesterday (August 15) to make it clear what he thinks of Charlottesville and what he dubbed the "alt-left", the stated goal of his speech was to announce how he is planning to upgrade the nation's infrastructure. "This is what it takes to get something approved today ... and this is what we will bring it down to".

But an impromptu press conference after his infrastructure remarks quickly stepped on the message, turning into a wild, combative exchange with the press, in which Trump defended his initial response to the violent events and suggested that not all people attending the white supremacist rally were bad. "As the White House prepares to roll out its ambitious infrastructure plan and as Congress works to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program, we urge lawmakers to incorporate comprehensive mitigation strategies that protect infrastructure investments from a future of more frequent natural disasters". The new Executive Order establishes a two-year goal to process environmental documents for major infrastructure projects.

He said highway projects can require as many as 16 approvals from nine federal agencies under 29 laws.

Agencies will also be held accountable for implementing appropriate best practices that are proven to enhance the environmental review and permitting process.

While Trump promised that the federal government would not approve projects that do not meet environmental standards, the executive order he signed would revoke an environmental regulation enacted under former President Barack Obama. "We're literally like a third-world country", Trump said, while touting his latest executive order, which he called the next step toward restoring the nation's infrastructure.

The Obama-era rule gave federal agencies three options to flood-proof new infrastructure projects.

The executive order also would reinstate the prior flood management standard by President Jimmy Carter in 1977. Infrastructure should built in a period of a few years, not a decade.

"The fundamentals of the Obama policy were pretty simple: The taxpayer isn't going to spend a vast amount of money to subsidize stupid things", such as building vulnerable, flood-prone infrastructure, says Eli Lehrer, president of the R Street Institute, a group that advocates a libertarian approach to addressing climate change. That's why I just signed a new EO to dramatically reform the nation's badly broken infrastructure permitting process.

But the environmental group Oil Change International said the order would silence local communities that have safety and environmental concerns about major projects like pipelines.

In January, the Trump administration released a 50-item list of infrastructure priorities that included provisions for transmission expansion, wind and energy storage, among other power sector projects.