Brief

Trump's infrastructure committee recommends arbitration-style permitting process

Dive Brief:

  • Members of President Donald Trump's infrastructure task force have suggested using the bankruptcy court arbitration process as a model for how to expedite infrastructure permitting, according to Reuters.
  • In his proposal, billionaire developer Richard LeFrak — a leader of the task force — said one person would be the final word on all project issues, like environmental impact, that can currently take as long as 10 years to resolve.  
  • LeFrak, who heads up the infrastructure task force alongside another billionaire real estate developer Steve Roth, told Trump at a White House meeting that despite speeding up permitting, the process would not allow applicants to dodge regulations.

Dive Insight:

The ability to surmount red tape and bureaucracy is key to Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure plan, as he has set a 10-year timeframe that could be eaten up just by standard permitting practices alone.

Also at issue in Trump's proposal is how the projects will be financed. An increase in the gas tax would take the pressure off the country's general revenue streams. This is an option the American Society of Civil Engineers proposed earlier this month as a way to fill an estimated $2 trillion infrastructure funding gap, a shortfall which has increased by $1 trillion since 2013.

The ASCE recently released its annual U.S. infrastructure report card, which gave the country an average grade of D+. The ASCE said it would take $4.6 trillion by 2025 to make all the necessary repairs and improvements. This follows last year's ASCE finding that country will give up 2.5 million jobs and $4 trillion in gross domestic product over the next 10 years if it can’t meet infrastructure funding requirements.

The infrastructure advisory board, led by LeFrak and Roth, includes a team of builders and engineers, but its suggestions are not binding. The group is charged with not only coming up with logistical and financing possibilities for the president's infrastructure agenda, but to keep costs under control as well. 

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Filed Under: Infrastructure Legal/Regulation