Trump Ends Infrastructure Week by Streamlining the Permitting Process

President Trump made a compelling case for reducing the length of time needed to construct major infrastructure projects to justify the creation of a new White House council to streamline permitting. Only one problem: it already exists.
June 11, 2017, 7am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"President Donald Trump wrapped up his administration's 'infrastructure week' Friday by unveiling a council and a new White House office tasked with streamlining fixes for America's infrastructure," reports Andrew Soergel, economy reporter at U.S. News.

"This council will also improve transparency by creating a new online dashboard allowing everyone to easily track major projects through every stage of the approval process," Trump said....

Soergel points out that such a council already exists: the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC), aka "Permitting Dashboard." It was included in the FAST Act transportation reauthorization bill, approved by Congress in 2015 and established by President Obama in 2016.

"The White House later acknowledged that Trump was talking about the existing council, and that there's already a dashboard," reports Gregory Korte, White House correspondent for USA TODAY. 

"While the previous administration did stand up the council, it truly did not fulfill its potential," said White House assistant press secretary Natalie Strom.

"During the speech, Trump pulled out three large binders containing the paperwork for a single environmental review of an 18-mile road in Maryland, clunking them down on the podium for dramatic effect and thumbing through all the pages," observed The Hill's transportation reporter, Melanie Zanona. "Trump said the report weighed 70 pounds and cost $29 million to produce — $24,000 per page."

Korte adds that the "president also said he would create a new office in the White House Council on Environmental Quality to root out inefficiency in the federal permitting process."

If it's Wednesday, it's Inland Waterways

Infrastructure Week took Trump on June 7 to the banks of the Ohio River near Cincinnati to bring attention to the need for investment for America's inland waterways, reports Becca Schimmel of Ohio Valley ReSource. However, he "did not detail any specifics for potential legislation or spending," according to C-SPAN.

On Monday, Trump spoke in favor of modernizing the air traffic control system by privatizing it.

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Published on Friday, June 9, 2017 in U.S. News & World Report
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