Earlier today, The Hill published an op-ed by former Congressman Charlie Melancon of Louisiana calling on Congress to develop a comprehensive infrastructure plan in 2019. Rep. Melancon argues that in a time when partisan politics are seemingly at a record high – Democrats and Republicans can come together on at least one thing: infrastructure. He emphasizes the importance of further development in the US, noting that fourteen million Americans have jobs directly related to infrastructure.
Despite the bipartisan benefits of investment in our critical infrastructure, Melancon points out that there are still fringe groups opposing infrastructure advancement and modernization. He writes:
It’s clear that infrastructure development must be a priority in 2019. Yet, that’s not what we have seen in the bayous of Louisiana or the plains of the Dakotas. For example, energy infrastructure projects have been plagued with fringe activists and anti-energy protesters who continue to escalate tactics, often times breaking the law and endangering themselves and innocent bystanders in the process. Some have taken to chaining themselves to construction equipment and creating aerial blockades in the trees. In Pennsylvania, one vigilante protester started a fire near equipment and spread spoiled food near a construction site to bother workers and attract wild animals.
Melancon contends these “risky demonstrations and polarizing attempts are further contributing to the collapse of public discourse around this important issue.” Vigilante tactics and ideological opposition to responsible infrastructure development are not conducive to moving the US forward. Melancon even notes that “some groups have even gone as far as to demand banks refuse to do business or associate with the energy companies building projects to better serve American consumers across the country.” He concludes that although our infrastructure deficiencies are complicated and will take time to address, it starts with a straightforward and bipartisan plan right now in 2019, as he writes:
The U.S. faces complex infrastructure deficiencies that are undoubtedly multi-faceted and will take some time to improve. These matters will not be solved overnight; or within the next year, for that matter. But a long-term solution starts with a strong infrastructure plan with bipartisan support in 2019. Through the integration of effective public-private partnerships and a clear vision, lawmakers can hit the ground running and develop a plan to grow our nation’s infrastructure.