Tom Giovanetti, president of the Institute for Policy Innovation, penned an opinion piece in The Dallas Morning News this week highlighting that rather than funneling trillions into public infrastructure projects, the federal government should streamline the regulatory process and create an environment that encourages private investment in infrastructure like pipelines, railroads, communications networks, and other critical infrastructure. The government has repeatedly insisted that updating America’s aging infrastructure is a “priority” for years, dating back to the Obama administration. Now, both President Donald Trump and presidential candidate Joe Biden have released $1 and $1.3 trillion, respectively, infrastructure plans. While these measures can help stimulate the economy following the economic fall out caused by Covid-19, a simple, commonsense solution starts with the federal government streamlining the development process and encouraging private investment to help cover the costs.
Giovanetti aptly wrote,
“Federal laws and regulations raise costs and slow construction of infrastructure projects. Many projects cannot be undertaken until receiving permission from federal regulators seemingly intent on stopping development. The average time for the Environmental Protection Agency to complete environmental review for infrastructure projects has risen from 2.2 years in the 1970s to almost 7 years today. That’s years, not weeks or months.”
GAIN echoes Giovanetti’s sentiments, positing that federal legislation and extensive government permitting only slows down much needed repair and growth. Giovanetti also points out that the private sectors already own roughly 85% of America’s “critical infrastructure” as defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This includes, roads, pipelines, utilities such as water, gas, electric and waste management, railroads, communications networks and airports. Most of the rest is owned by state and local governments. In fact, the federal government only owns 3% of the nation’s infrastructure. America’s private sector has shown its enthusiasm for investing in infrastructure that our increasing population needs, without dependence on taxpayer dollars.
“If we really do want America’s critical infrastructure maintained, modernized and continually expanded, instead of borrowing and spending trillions of dollars on a small portion of our overall infrastructure, the most important thing government at all levels could do is just get out of the way.”