Newsletter: The Road Forward on Infrastructure

(Feb. 15, 2018) The White House’s infrastructure plan launches an essential public discussion of how to modernize America’s decrepit infrastructure in a timely fashion. Core elements of the plan reflect proposals made in our Two Years, Not Ten Years report, including:

  • “One Agency, One Decision” environmental review structure.The proposal should go further and preempt state review for interstate projects.
  • Firm deadlines, no longer than two years, to complete environmental reviews and permits. Enforcing deadlines, we believe, requires clarifying lines of authority.
  • Directing CEQ to issue new regulations to streamline NEPA processes. The new rules should authorize CEQ to take into account public needs, environmental benefits and other relevant factors in determining schedules.

The funding proposals include useful flexibility but are not adequate. The federal contribution, $200 billion, will not stimulate $1.5 trillion of investment. Most transportation projects have little or no revenue streams, and it’s not realistic to expect state and local governments to fund 80-90% of the cost of major projects currently funded primarily by the federal government.

Legitimate concerns over increasing the federal deficit lead to one obvious conclusion: an increase in the gas tax (which the President supports) or a “vehicle miles travelled” tax. The return on the investment will greatly outweigh the costs, as well as improve America’s environmental footprint.

You can download our full statement on the plan here.

Originally published in the Common Good Newsletter – sign up here to receive these updates straight to your inbox.

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