The Lowdown On Trump’s Infrastructure Bill

A pipeline installation between farms, as seen from 50th Avenue in New Salem, North Dakota. A key part to Trump's infrastructure plan is more support for fossil fuel development

President Trump recently released his infrastructure and budget plan. Environmental and social justice organizations are opposed to the plan, depicting it as a giveaway to the wealthy.

The Trump administration claims in a blog post on the White House website that the infrastructure plan will empower state and local authorities by expanding the states environmental review and permitting processes. The goal is to work with Congress to create a “one agency, one decision” plan for environmental reviews to “shorten approval processes while protecting natural resources.” The same blog post praises the Trump administration for having “rolled back regulations at an unprecedented clip” and approved the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

The plan would either exempt infrastructure projects from environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act (ESA), Clean Air Act, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or it would weaken environmental laws.

Ben Schreiber, Friends of the Earth’s Senior Political Strategist, describes the plan as “nothing more than a scam to roll back environmental and health protections.” It is a plan that will allow Trump’s administration to “unilaterally build pipelines across our national parks and sell-off our public lands to oil and coal companies,” Schreiber said. And that is something that shouldn’t come as a surprise from an administration that shrunk protection for two Utah national monuments, he pointed out.

A giveaway to the wealthy and powerful

Trump touted his plan as one that will be good for Americans. “This morning, I submitted legislative principles to Congress that will spur the biggest and boldest infrastructure investment in American history,” President Trump said of his infrastructure proposal. “We’re going to have a lot of public-private.”

A group of 28 organizations, including the Sierra Club disagrees with Trump’s assessment of his plan. They released a statement on the plan:

“President Trump’s proposal is an unprecedented giveaway to the wealthy and powerful that would allow his administration and its special interest allies to unilaterally sidestep bedrock conservation, public health, and worker safety laws that keep our families and communities out of harm’s way,” they said in a statement.

Cuts to the Interior Department’s budget

The plan proposes a 17 percent cut to the Interior Department’s budget, an increase from the 12 percent production the Trump administration proposed last year. Executive Director of Western Values Project Chris Saeger points out that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has been “rolling back protections, silencing public participation, ushering in the largest reduction of national monuments in history, and letting special interests take the reins of the department.”

Any credibility Zinke had before the release of Trump’s plan “should be completely gone now,” Saeger said.

“Coupled with a budget that starves the EPA, clean energy and other environmental priorities, Trump’s dangerous agenda shows yet again that he’s doing whatever he can to sell out our children’s future to the highest bidder and reveals his true priorities – polluters over people,” said League of Conservation Voters Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld.

Let Congress know you oppose the plan

There is something concerned citizens can do. They can sign petitions directed to Congress. Here are a few:

  • Corporate Accountability calls on Congress to oppose Trump’s infrastructure bill
  • Color of Change asks Congress to oppose Trump’s infrastructure plan and support H.Con.Res.63, a bill that proposes an infrastructure plan that “benefits all Americans, not just billionaires.”
  • Working Families asks Congress to reject Trump’s plan.


Image: Wikimedia Commons

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Gina-Marie Cheeseman, freelance writer/journalist/copyeditor Twitter: @gmcheeseman

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