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Rebuilding our infrastructure requires rethinking environmental permitting (OPINION)

Rebuilding our infrastructure requires rethinking environmental permitting (OPINION)

The Hill
BY THOMAS J. MADISON JR., OPINION CONTRIBUTOR
03/06/20 04:30 PM EST  

The U.S. has been alarmingly bad at building new critical infrastructure, or even adequately maintaining the assets we already have. Almost every major infrastructure project runs into protracted, unnecessary delays and cost overruns. Many such projects are simply scrapped altogether after being smothered for years under a mountain of red tape and litigation. The urgency to shake-up how we deliver infrastructure in this country has never been greater, and reforming the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is exactly the right place to start.

NEPA was established as a tool to help governments assess, understand and mitigate environmental impacts related to the delivery of essential services like infrastructure. Instead, it has become a de facto mechanism for stopping projects in their tracks. This must change now, because the unintended consequences of NEPA’s prolonged delays and denials have put the very backbone of America’s economy at risk.

The American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) most recent “Infrastructure Report Card” grades U.S. infrastructure – including our roads, bridges, dams, electric grid, water systems and other key components – with an appalling D+. ASCE estimates by 2025 we will suffer nearly $4 trillion in losses to our country’s GDP and shed 2.5 million jobs if we continue to delay and defer needed repairs and improvements... FULL ARTICLE

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