President Obama today will announce plans to speed up permits for infrastructure projects. According to Reuters, “U.S. President Barack Obama will take aim at the cumbersome approval process for large infrastructure projects on Wednesday, showing how streamlining reviews slashed the time taken to green-light New York’s massive Tappan Zee bridge project, the White House said. Obama is slated to speak at the bridge, about 20 miles north of New York City, at 3:25 p.m., and will pledge to apply the lessons learned from the permit process for the bridge to a long list of infrastructure projects across the country.”
This president’s push to accelerate infrastructure projects comes even as the administration continues to block the permit for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and slow-walk applications to export U.S. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). But this is not the first time we have seen the president pose for a photo op while promising to cut red tape. In 2011, the president rolled out his “21st century regulatory system” plan, but nothing ever materialized. The White House even created a website on its regulatory reform efforts, but it hasn’t been updated since 2012. And in March 2012, the president proudly stood in front of a stack of steel pipes and pledged action to speed up permitting for pipelines and other energy projects. But another two years have passed, and we are still waiting on the president to simply make a decision on Keystone.
While the president pays lip service to reform, the White House has not supported any legislation that would improve permitting of job-creating infrastructure projects. The House has acted on multiple bipartisan bills to support our nation of builders and allow major projects to move forward. The House passed H.R. 3 to build the Keystone XL pipeline and H.R. 1900 to streamline natural gas pipeline permits. The House Energy and Commerce Committee recently passed H.R. 3301 to modernize the approval of cross-border energy projects and H.R. 6 to expedite the approval of LNG export facilities. And just today, the committee unveiled new legislation to increase transparency and predictability in the permitting process for new job-creating manufacturing projects. All of these measures deliver real regulatory reforms and deserve the support of the president if he is sincere about strengthening America’s infrastructure.
“President Obama is a day late and a dollar short on his proposal to meet the infrastructure needs of America. His stimulus wasted billions of taxpayer dollars on speculative green energy projects while shovel-ready private infrastructure projects were kicked to the sidelines. It’s been over five years and the president has still been incapable of saying ‘yes’ to commonsense jobs projects like Keystone,” said Energy and Power Subcommittee Ed Whitfield (R-KY). “Meanwhile, the House has already delivered real bipartisan solutions so we can cut red tape and start building. If the president truly wants regulatory reform, he should use his ‘pen and his phone’ to call Congress and work with us on these commonsense proposals.”