NEW YORK, Sept. 22, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Common Good Chair Philip K. Howard released the following statement in response to the White House's announcement today of procedural improvements in the environmental review process for infrastructure projects:
"The reforms announced by the White House today are a step in the right direction but do not address sufficiently the extraordinary cost to the nation of delays in approving infrastructure projects. Common Good has estimated that cost at $3.7 trillion – more than twice the cost of fixing the infrastructure.
Having parallel reviews rather than sequential ones, as the White House proposes, is clearly a valuable step. But it will not change a regulatory culture, with no accountable decision-maker, that has led the approval process to last, in many cases, a decade or longer. Environmental review statements should be no more than 300 pages as current regulations provide – not, often, 10,000 pages.
I look forward to hearing more about additional steps that the White House intends to take to address this issue, which is costing the nation dearly in wasted resources, preventable pollution, and millions of lost jobs."
Earlier this month Common Good issued a report revealing that a six-year delay in starting construction on public projects costs the nation over $3.7 trillion, including the costs of prolonged inefficiencies and unnecessary pollution. That's more than double the $1.7 trillion needed through the end of this decade to modernize America's decrepit infrastructure. Titled Two Years, Not Ten Years: Redesigning Infrastructure Approvals, the report proposes a dramatic reduction of red tape so that infrastructure can be approved in two years or less. This can be accomplished by consolidating decisions within a simplified framework with deadlines and clear lines of accountability.
The report comes as the federal government considers funding for infrastructure projects, but funding alone is not sufficient. Even fully-funded projects have trouble moving forward. In 2009, America had the money (over $800 billion in the economic stimulus package) but few permits. In its five-year report on the stimulus, released in February 2014, the White House revealed that a grand total of $30 billion (3.6 percent of the stimulus) had been spent on transportation infrastructure. In the current legal quagmire, not even the President has authority to approve needed projects.
The report also comes as Americans are increasingly frustrated with the federal government's inability to improve the nation's infrastructure. A nationwide poll of U.S. voters conducted for Common Good in June by Clarus Research Group found that 74 percent of voters would be more inclined to vote for a candidate for President who promised to take charge of federal infrastructure reviews to speed up the process; 79 percent of voters think there are no good reasons for infrastructure delays, which are mostly viewed as an example of wasteful and inefficient government.
The full report is available at www.commongood.org.
Common Good (www.commongood.org) is a nonpartisan government reform coalition dedicated to restoring common sense to America. The Chair of Common Good is Philip K. Howard, a lawyer and author of most recently The Rule of Nobody. He is also author of The Death of Common Sense.
SOURCE Common Good