During Tuesday’s press conference in front of Trump Tower, reporters did their best to try to get President Trump to implicate himself in the hate and violence that went on for hours in Virginia over the weekend, leaving one 32-year old woman dead and dozens of others injured. However, the President didn’t want to discuss the issue incessantly, knowing that the media was trying to twist his words into an admission of guilt.
The issue President Trump planned to talk about was infrastructure.
In fact, White House aides had advised reporters staked out at Trump Tower on Tuesday that the president would make infrastructure statements, after which Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao would answer questions. However, Trump’s announcement regarding a campaign promise he made to pass a $1 trillion package to revitalize the nation’s infrastructure was lost in the drama of Charlottesville.
So, here is presented the real news which took place on Tuesday: President Trump announced that he has signed a sweeping executive order to eliminate and streamline certain permitting regulations and to speed the construction of roads, bridges, and pipelines, declaring that the moves would fix a “badly broken” infrastructure system in America and bring manufacturing jobs back to the country.
“Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports, and railways gleaming across our very, very beautiful land,” said President Trump after he signed the Executive Order Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects.
Early in his administration, Trump’s proposed a rebuilding plan which, according to the budget, would inject $200 billion into transportation projects over 10 years, with the goal of creating $1 trillion worth of overall investment. On Tuesday, the White House laid out a fact sheet to explain that the Trump administration now plans to modernize the outdated system, stating, “The old system for completing environmental reviews was fragmented, inefficient, and unpredictable to the American people.”
Trump’s latest executive order will require that agencies track the costs of conducting environmental reviews and making permitting decisions, something the federal government currently lacks.
Regulatory red tape has been holding up major infrastructure projects for years at significant cost to our economy, according to the White House, quoting a 2014 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which reveals that it takes an average of seven years for a complex highway project to go through the entire environmental review process. Another study found that the average delay of six years for major infrastructure projects costs the U.S. economy trillions. President Trump’s order is dedicated to removing such roadblocks.
“Rather than allow for a patchwork of agency reviews, this Order implements a One Federal Decision policy under which the lead Federal agency will work with other relevant Federal agencies to complete the environmental reviews and permitting decisions needed for major infrastructure projects,” according to the White House, which notes that each agency will sign a joint Record of Decision, and all required federal permits will be issued 90 days later.
The order establishes a two-year goal to process environmental documents for major infrastructure projects. The entire environmental review and permitting process will be scrutinized with the goal of improving performance across the government and holding every federal agency accountable.
Under this order:
- The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) will develop and implement an action plan to improve environmental reviews Government-wide.
- The CEQ will mediate disagreements between Federal agencies so a decision isn’t delayed amid bureaucratic disputes.
- The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will develop a two-year Government-wide modernization goal and ensure Federal agencies take meaningful steps to achieve it.
- Agencies will modify their strategic plans to include agency-specific goals for improving environmental review and permitting processes, and hold their officials accountable.
- OMB will establish a performance accountability system and score each agency on their implementation of the Executive Order. Poor performance will be considered in budget formulation and could result in the imposition of available penalties.
- Agencies will also be held accountable for implementing appropriate best practices that are proven to enhance the environmental review and permitting process.
- The Executive Order makes clear that environmental protections will be maintained, and that the process should focus more on decision-making and good environmental outcomes rather than bureaucratic process.
In President Trump’s efforts to rebuild America, he has also “unleashed oil and gas development in the United States by expanding access to resources and the infrastructure needed to get them to market,” according to the White House, which points to the approval of projects such as the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Both are expected to create more than 42,000 jobs and reap $2 billion in earnings. Trump has also signed an executive order mandating that future pipeline work is done by American workers using American steel.
The president has dedicated $200 billion in his budget as part of a $1 trillion investment plan to rebuild infrastructure.
- The Federal Government will help bring transformative projects to market that will bring the country’s infrastructure into the 21st century.
- Rural America will receive grants to rebuild crippled bridges, roads, and waterways.
- States and cities will receive grants to meet their own infrastructure challenges.
- Qualified projects of regional and national significance, such as those created under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, will receive loans.
- Government will get out of the way to allow state and local governments to succeed at meeting their unique challenges.
Under President Trump’s plan, only one-fifth of infrastructure spending comes from the federal government; the vast majority comes from states, localities, and the private sector.