Trump Releases Long-Anticipated Infrastructure Plan

FEBRUARY 13, 2018

President Trump this week released his highly anticipated, 55-page infrastructure plan, outlining his administration’s vision to update the nation’s bridges, roads, and tunnels.

The objective overall is the same as the president highlighted in his State of the Union address — spur $1.5 trillion in overall investment with the federal government contributing $200 billion in incentives and the remainder coming from states/localities and public-private partnerships.

After the proposal was released, Senate Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) stated, “President Trump is a champion for upgrading our country’s aging roads, highways, bridges, and water infrastructure. America needs a robust infrastructure plan that prioritizes streamlining so needed projects can get done faster and for lower costs. I will work side by side with President Trump to make modernizing our infrastructure a reality.”

The proposal calls for easing the process to dispose of federal real estate to assist pay for projects, by allowing the government to sell more quickly “assets that are no longer needed.” The dollars received could then be reinvested in infrastructure improvements.

Additionally, there would be increased flexibility for states to impose tolls on interstates to increase revenue to defray the costs of updates, if the president’s plan was fully adopted.

The plan also calls for expediting environmental reviews for various infrastructure projects, establishing a “One Agency, One Decision” environmental review structure. Currently, various projects fall under the jurisdiction of several federal agencies, slowing the process as each agency reviews it.

The infrastructure proposal calls for a firm 21-month deadline for the lead agency to makes its determination of No Significant Environmental Impact or issue its Record of Decision. Then, within three months, the lead agency would be required to make a determination as to the requested permits.

Environmental groups immediately expressed concerns about any relaxed permitting processes. Fred Krupp, President of the Environmental Defense Fund, stated, “The Administration’s larger infrastructure proposal . . . appears to undermine the safeguards that protect our air, land, and water. Smart and sustainable infrastructure projects create more jobs, better jobs, and better lives for American families. Let’s take this opportunity to rebuild a cleaner America.”

The president’s proposal also seeks to implement judicial reform to limit the challenges to projects, specifically limiting parties ability to obtain injunctive relief to “exceptional circumstances” and revising the statute of limitations for challenges to permits or decisions on projects to 150 days.

Finally, the proposal advocates for reforms to career and technical education programs, highlighting that the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education (H.R. 2353) program should be reauthorized and modernized to train the workforce with the skills needed to physically construct the projects envisioned by the plan.