Opinion: Trump’s infrastructure order falls far short of his campaign promises

Source: David A. Super, The Hill, September 9, 2017

… With congressional Republicans allergic to finding new resources from anywhere except cutting programs for the poor and his own political influence flagging, the president has effectively abandoned his infrastructure plan without a fight. Indeed, his proposed budget would further starve already underfunded domestic programs — necessitating still more deferred maintenance — to fund a defense build-up and a ludicrously expensive border wall. Among the big losers would be wastewater treatment programs, the highway trust fund, and maintenance in our national parks.

Rather than press Congress for the infrastructure funding he has admitted we need, President Trump has shifted to blaming environmental regulations such as the Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard that limits building in areas likely to become flooded. Wildly exaggerating the role environmental reviews play in delaying critical infrastructure projects, his executive order would short-circuit environmental reviews of projects that could leave communities excessively vulnerable to natural disasters, destroy cherished recreational opportunities, or expose children in nearby communities to toxic chemicals. …

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Trump Wants States and Cities to Pay More for Infrastructure
Source: Daniel C. Vock, Governing, August 31, 2017

The White House envisions that a long-promised infrastructure package would streamline the federal approval process for major projects and also require states and localities to shoulder more of the financial burden for building them. It’s a shift in focus from the Obama administration, which had pledged to increase infrastructure funding but never came up with a long-term solution. … Mulvaney not only said they wanted to reduce Washington’s role in state and local projects but also offer new “incentives” to help them complete projects. “We’re trying to figure out how to use a little bit of [federal] money to generate a lot of money, to give state and locals the incentives to do stuff you might not otherwise do,” he said. …

Rebuilding Our Country Should Boost Good Jobs, Not Privatization Schemes
Source: Roxana Tynan, HuffPost, August 23, 2017
 
We’ve seen a decline in infrastructure spending the last several years, and The New York Times reports that “In 34 states, spending on government construction projects was lower last year than in 2007, adjusting for inflation. The trend has continued this year. Public construction spending in June was 9.5 percent lower than during the same month last year.”  As state budgets are cut, projects are halted. So where will this outpouring of money come from? Private investors will step in, with the promise of big tax incentives.  Companies will undoubtedly focus on projects that are the most profitable, keeping labor and supply costs down in the process, rather than on building the infrastructure that is most needed. …


Members of Trump’s Infrastructure Panel Resign in Protest
Source: John M. Donnelly, Roll Call, August 23, 2017
 
More than a quarter of a blue-ribbon panel of experts that advises President Donald Trump on infrastructure security submitted a joint resignation letter to him Monday because, they wrote, his actions jeopardize U.S. security and “undermine” America’s “moral infrastructure.”  Seven members of the 27-person National Infrastructure Advisory Council, mostly Democrats, are stepping down, said Cristin Dorgelo, one of the resigning members, in an email to CQ Roll Call. Dorgelo, a senior counselor at Mission Partners LLC, was formerly chief of staff for President Barack Obama’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. …

Trump Plan to Improve U.S. Infrastructure Is Going Nowhere for Now
Source: Andrew Sheivachman, Skift, August 21, 2017
 
More than six months into his administration, President Donald J. Trump’s highly-touted plan for a $1 trillion infrastructure investment has yet to materialize.  During an “Infrastructure Week” event last week, the President signed an executive order with Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao present aimed at removing regulations governing new infrastructure projects. In particular, the order calls for a less-stringent permit process and fewer environmental regulations.  This deregulation would allow projects to start more quickly, instead of being tied up in years of red tape out of environmental and other concerns. Federal agencies would now be judged on how effectively they facilitate new projects and track costs, as well. …

Trump’s agenda could bring disaster for America’s aging infrastructure
Source: Donald Cohen and Dwayne Royster, The Hill, August 21, 2017
 
Here’s something that almost everyone can agree on: We need to rebuild and retool the country’s aging infrastructure for the 21st century. The difficult question is how — and President Trump’s infrastructure agenda isn’t the way.  The Trump agenda, while light on details, will surely rely on so-called “public-private partnerships,” which use expensive private financing instead of cheap, reliable public financing. By depending on such deals to rebuild America, the agenda poses serious risks to the public and fails to address the real issue causing our roads to crumble and water pipes to age: the long-term shortage of public funding. …

Trump Plan to Improve U.S. Infrastructure Is Going Nowhere for Now
Source: Andrew Sheivachman, Skift, August 21, 2017
 
More than six months into his administration, President Donald J. Trump’s highly-touted plan for a $1 trillion infrastructure investment has yet to materialize.  During an “Infrastructure Week” event last week, the President signed an executive order with Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao present aimed at removing regulations governing new infrastructure projects. In particular, the order calls for a less-stringent permit process and fewer environmental regulations.  This deregulation would allow projects to start more quickly, instead of being tied up in years of red tape out of environmental and other concerns. Federal agencies would now be judged on how effectively they facilitate new projects and track costs, as well. …

White House Pulls Plug on Infrastructure Advisory Panel
Source: Ted Mann, Wall Street Journal, August 17, 2017
 
The White House pulled the plug Thursday on a planned council that was to advise President Donald Trump on rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, acknowledging that the proposed members would come under pressure not to participate because of the controversy surrounding the president’s remarks amid the Charlottesville furor.  “The President’s Advisory Council on Infrastructure, which was still being formed, will not move forward,” a White House official said Thursday.  The administration abandoned the idea of the council one day after two other groups of business leaders disbanded, as CEOs of some of the country’s largest companies quit over Mr. Trump’s reaction to a white supremacist rally in Virginia. …

Trump talks infrastructure, but $1 trillion plan is as elusive as ever
Source: Lauren Gardner, Politico, August 15, 2017
 
President Donald Trump on Tuesday rolled out yet another executive order aimed at speeding up approvals for infrastructure projects — the latest in a string of efforts to call attention to his languishing proposal for a $1 trillion initiative to rebuild the nation’s roads, tunnels and bridges.  Tuesday’s order aims to shrink the environmental permitting process to as little as two years, down from an average of seven years for “complex” highway projects, and ensure that just one federal agency serves as the point of contact for each project’s paperwork. It also nixes an Obama-era flood standard that would have required federally funded projects to be built to withstand the stronger storms projected to occur as the planet warms.

Trump to sign executive order Tuesday on infrastructure projects
Source: Reuters, August 14, 2017
 
President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on Tuesday “establishing discipline and accountability in the environmental review and permitting process for infrastructure projects,” the White House said on Monday.  Trump, who is visiting his residence at Trump Tower in New York, will also participate in a discussion on infrastructure and give a statement on the subject at 3:45 p.m. …

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