June 08, 2017

DeFazio to Trump: When Does the Real Infrastructure Week Start?

DeFazio to Trump: When Does the Real Infrastructure Week Start?

DeFazio attacks Trump’s claims that infrastructure needs can be solved by gutting environmental protections


Washington, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) slammed President Trump for failing to produce any proposals to address the real needs of our crumbling infrastructure during his so-called “Infrastructure Week”. This week, the president failed to produce a single plan that would address the $90 billion backlog in critical needs for transit or the nearly 143,000 deficient bridges that need repair and replacement. Instead, President Trump claimed today that our backlog of critical transportation infrastructure projects can be solved by gutting clean water and environmental protections.

“Well, it’s the end of the so-called ‘Infrastructure Week’, and President Trump failed to produce a single proposal that would alleviate congestion on our highways, fix our deficient bridges, or address the $90 billion transit backlog. Instead, President Trump pretended that he can wave a magic wand, do away with critical environmental protections, and magically rebuild our crumbing roads, bridges, and transit systems. He is trying to avoid the fact that it will take real federal investment and partnership with the states to rebuild our infrastructure. I’ve sent President Trump three bipartisan solutions to generate over $500 billion to fix our roads, bridges, transit systems, airports, and ports. It is time for Trump to work with Democrats to find the funding necessary to rebuild our infrastructure and put millions of people back to work. I’m ready to go whenever he wants the real infrastructure week to start,” said DeFazio.

President Trump’s rationale for weakening and reducing environmental regulations omits or distorts a number of important facts. According to the Congressional Research Service, the overwhelming majority of Federally-assisted highway projects—90 percent—proceed under a Categorical Exclusion (CE), meaning they are exempt from full environmental review. Only four percent of projects require the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement, the most detailed review document. A recent report, commissioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, identified 40 economically significant transportation and water projects whose completion has been slowed or is in jeopardy. The report found that “a lack of public funding is by far the most common factor hindering the completion of transportation and water infrastructure projects.” Further, the report found that delays resulting from environmental review and permitting were identified as a challenge to completing less than a quarter of the projects.

More and more “streamlining” of review and permitting is not the answer to our infrastructure crisis nor the principal roadblock. In April, DOT’s Inspector General (IG) found that the Department has completed work on the majority of the 42 actions it was required to take to implement the streamlining provisions that Congress approved as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). However, the IG found that DOT now has delayed implementing a significant number of MAP-21’s reforms because they must be revised to comply with additional streamlining provisions mandated in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act).

The IG stated that, because of the delays caused by additional FAST Act streamlining, “the Department may not achieve all of the intended benefits under MAP-21… such as accelerating project delivery, reducing costs, and ensuring that the planning, design, engineering, construction, and financing of transportation projects are done in a more efficient and effective manner.” Piling additional streamlining measures on top of each other before they can be implemented—and before we can assess their effectiveness—is not going to solve our infrastructure problems.

To read a fact sheet on streamlining and permitting, click here:[[{"fid":"285","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default"},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default"}},"link_text":"Streamlining 6-9-17.pdf","attributes":{"class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"1"}}]]

A CRS report debunking a September 2015 report titled “Two Years Not Ten Years: Redesigning Infrastructure Approvals” used by the Trump Administration to justify changes to environmental review and permitting processes can be found here.

DeFazio’s Invest in America proposals can be found here.