Trump throws environmental reviews to the ground in Infrastructure Week speech

President Trump denounced regulations and bureaucratic protocols governing construction projects in the United States in a press briefing promoting his vision for nationwide infrastructure development.
By Kristy Douglas | Jun 11, 2017
President Trump denounced regulations and bureaucratic protocols governing construction projects in the United States in a press briefing promoting his vision for nationwide infrastructure development. Trump's speech offered few specifics but one bold visual: The president brought out oversized binders filled with pages of text and tossed them one by one to the floor.

"These binders on the stage could be replaced by just a few simple pages and it would be just as good. In fact, it would be better, " he said.

The binders were presumably environmental-impact assessments and other reports that construction projects were required by law to complete. Trump told an anecdote of a Maryland developer who had to spend $29 million for a 70-pound environmental report to build an 18-mile road. As he threw each binder to the floor, he told his audience that he would eliminate this "dense thicket of rules, regulation and red tape" in order to allow builders to proceed with their projects more quickly and cheaply.

He did not spell out what kinds of regulations he would eliminate or what would replace them. However, he announced that the White House will form a new council to help project managers "navigate bureaucracy," and an online dashboard that will show where a given project application is in the approval process at any moment. In addition, federal agencies that delay projects would suffer "tough penalties."

But critics warn that some delays may be inevitable due to funding shortfalls. Trump's budget for the next fiscal year reduces funding of the Highway Trust Fund. Trump's infrastructure plan calls for $1 trillion in spending on infrastructure development over the next decade but expects $800 billion to come from public-private partnerships, and only $200 billion to come from federal spending.

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