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Trump’s infrastructure plan raises red flags

Trump’s infrastructure plan raises red flags

Plan recently put forward is seriously concerning to environmentalists
By: Andrea Stachura

Last week, President Trump unveiled his long-awaited infrastructure plan alongside his fiscal year 2019 budget requests. The environmental agencies are unhappy with both.

The 53-page document lays out his vision: major cutbacks in the areas of regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The proposed cut didn’t come as much of a surprise, given that last year the president recommended cutting the Environmental Protection Agency by 30 percent, from $8.2 billion to $5.7 billion, as part of his 2018 budget proposal.

Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement, “The Trump administration budget released today is a blueprint for a less healthy, more polluted America. A budget shows your values, and this budget shows the administration doesn’t value clean air, clean water or protecting Americans from toxic pollution.”

The Trump budget would also significantly reduce the Environmental Protection Agencies’ programs related to climate change. With the new budget, funding for the agency’s Office of Science and Technology would drop by more than a third. In addition, funding for prosecuting environmental crimes and programs advocating for clean air and water would drop significantly.

Environmental groups were also quick to criticize the infrastructure plan, calling it a thinly veiled attempt to gut federal environmental safeguards.

The infrastructure plan would shrink the Environmental Protection Agency and hand the work of regulating and controlling environmental protection activities to individual states.

Those defending the infrastructure plan explain that the current process allows multiple agencies to conduct time-consuming reviews to check for permits and environmental compliance. They claim that this process slows the approval process and delays economic activity. Under Trump’s proposal, agencies would be required to complete environmental reviews in no more than 21 months.

The 21-month limit would also be applied to environmental reviews of projects that potentially threaten endangered species or fragile habitats.


Environmental groups were also quick to criticize the infrastructure plan, calling it a thinly veiled attempt to gut federal environmental safeguards.


The Trump infrastructure plan would reduce the amount of regulation and scrutiny of projects that have the potential to pollute the environment, along with curbs on federal agencies’ ability to raise objections to new construction. 

The infrastructure plan would enact significant changes to at least nine major environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.

Although the infrastructure plan hands some of the power to individual states, it undermines the states’ abilities to object to projects that would pollute waterways or drain water resources within their borders, like pipelines.

This is done by limiting the options available to lawyers and environmental groups, who are opposed to fossil fuel projects, as well as limiting the ability of courts to halt work on projects while lawsuits proceed.

Right now, only an act of Congress can permit the construction of pipelines through National Parks. 

To further lessen the legal opposition to oil and gas companies, this infrastructure plan seeks to allow the head of the Interior Department, Ryan Zinke, to grant permission to construct pipelines through the parks.

Stephanie Gidigbi, a policy director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a statement, called the plan “misguided.”

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