Notes on the Administration’s prepared “Infrastructure Plan.” It actually has very little to do with infrastructure and everything to do with deregulation, selling public land, and concentration of power to oversee our lands in the hands of ideological madmen.
Ok…the White House’s proposed Infrastructure budget is out. Oh man. I only just started reading and I have a pile of notes already. Lot’s of questionable stuff in here. There’s a repetition of bemoaning already existing Federal guidelines/restrictions in normal oversight on large projects and suggested easing of restrictions so that we can “streamline” the process. I’m going to just make a separate page for all this whining. I doubt anyone will actually read all the restrictions Trump’s people want removed. There’s a lot. A couple I want to leave here are(Let’s sell our public land quick!):
Oversight in awarding federal funding is given to primarily the Dept of Commerce and the EPA with involvement where necessary given to other department heads. In a normal administration we would be cool with that. Considering this ragtag assemblage of ideologues and people incredibly unqualified for their jobs in place, we are going to have to wonder about the awards given. A good amount of money set aside for railways as it should be, and who is in charge of that now? With the complete unqualified idiot, Heath Hall, recently having resigned after the discovery of his little moonlighting gig.
Wonder how this little addendum is going to work out. Won’t be abused by Pruitt or Zinke at all…no way.
As I suggest in an earlier post, after having read the leaked proposal to sell off federal lands; such an idea is indeed rolled into this proposed infrastructure plan. The wording is pretty much identical to the leaked document. It’s split up across several section, I don’t think that was an attempt to hide it, just re-organization, but if you check my original post on the topic, you’ll see it’s all here, including the still undefined federal profit-sharing:
Let me say, part of the neato justification put forth for selling our public lands, is that the public lands themselves have infrastructure needs and inadequacies. With a backlog of requested funds, selling or leasing of the lands would address the interior’s financial needs to make fixes within the very lands being sold.
Ya think Zinke’s gonna take kickbacks? Nah!!! He couldn’t. Not our boy Zinke.
It is proposed to privatize what remains of federal ownership of power transmission and large transportation hubs. Which to me makes sense. I’m sure there are counter arguments.
There is quite a bit of space dedicated to the commercialization of interstate highway systems. The language of the proposition is basically, again, remove as much restrictions and oversight as possible and make breathing space in the undertaking for private companies. The administration is particularly interested in turning rest stops into some kinda free-for-all concessionaire commercialization. All of this reads like a mess. Not particularly thought out. Feels like lobbyists wrote this whole section. I can’t imagine much of this passes through Congress, but who the hell knows anymore.
Suggested elimination of 49 U.S.C. Chapter 53, which is 222 pages outlining oversight, regulations, safety obligations, and much more for Public-Private partnerships in public transportation systems.
Shorten the lead time for Railway projects so that legal challenges have less of a window to emerge. From 2 years to 150 days.
Remove FAA from the responsibility of oversight for anything other than critical infrastructure at airports. Sounds fine and dandy, but the oversight is not given to any other agency. NSTB? Homeland Security? I suppose that will be up to the administration’s new best friends in the airlines themselves?
I mentioned back during the administrations heralding of private companies announcing that they would be giving to employees some bonuses purportedly due to “tax reform,” that we would be hearing about those companies again. The cows and chickens and goats have come home to roost. Here’s looking at you American Airlines and Southwest. Your desires to privatize airports is written into the infrastructure proposal.
Federal financing for public waterworks should be opened up to private companies and yet again, we should relax oversight and restrictions.
Maintenance of Hydroelectric should be opened up to private contracts instead of only federal upkeep.
There is a section to allow the VA to retain the sales proceeds of existing properties in order to finance future properties. Seems reasonable to me.
Open up federal grants the non-liable third parties for superfund cleanup. The inclusion of the non-liable designation makes this one kinda shitty.
Amending laws to allow Pruitt at the EPA to enter into contractual agreements at Superfund sites without administrative overview.
I’d like to highlight this type of language:
This one is hysterical. Allow Federal agencies to accept non-federal money from third parties in order to “speed-up” licensing and permits in infrastructure projects. I shit you not. The proposed infrastructure project has written right into it, that nothing could go wrong. Promise. It’s for streamlining!
Eliminate the need to follow all clean air guidelines. Air quality should only follow the most recent guidelines for acceptable pollution. “Amending the Clean Air Act to clarify that conformity requirements apply only to the latest NAAQS for the same pollutant would avoid this confusion and reduce legal challenges.”
Remove several departments from review of DOT’s use of public land or historic sites as it’s redundant and their viewpoint is useless.
Eliminate the National Park Service’s input on Replacement land for park areas sold to other interests. It’s redundant and makes the whole process take too long.
Sec. of Interior, Ryan Zinke, should, by himself, be able to sign off on use of public lands for oil and gas pipelines. Getting Congress involved only slows the process down. It causes “uncertainty.” FFS.
There are two pages dedicated to the Fed relinquish certain federal agencies responsibilities to govern the environment to States. The States will assume enforcement of these responsibilities. It will be “streamlined.”
The Fed would, in some cases, use experimental environmental impact reviews instead of following Federal Environmental Law…as a pilot program to see how that goes.
Some nice (sarcastic) Judicial changes. Limit what someone or an organization can file suit for under “special circumstance.” Limit the timeframe one can bring action from 6 years to 150 days.
Education won’t be left untouched. Come on you knew it wouldn’t! Redirect Federal grants to short-term, technical and trade training instead of grants for undergraduates. Redirect grants away from 4 year schools for two year school so people can get out there and start working on roadways right away!