“It just lets the federal agencies off the hook when they do a sloppy job of considering what’s important to communities, what’s important to wild life, what’s important to clean air and water.” ~Ted Zukoski, Earth Justice attorney
Nearly 42% of the president’s infrastructure proposal got published a couple of weeks ahead of the plan’s official release earlier this month. 23 of the 55 pages in the document establish a protocol for imposing deadlines on environmental review of projects were leaked in late January.
The proposal is promoted as a way to ‘streamline’ infrastructure projects, and though the approach is described as ‘One Agency, One Decision’ the administration sees the policy as one that will foster collaboration between authoritative agencies.
Trump says that the plan means “we will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways all across our land. And we will do it with American heart, and American hands, and American grit.” But environmental groups are speaking out about the environmental impact of changing the way infrastructure projects are approved.
One of the federal agencies that will play a key role is the Council on Environmental Quality, a panel that remains largely un-staffed because the president withdrew his nominee on February 2nd after the senate failed to confirm Kathleen Hartnett-White for the position in December.
A coalition of more than two dozen environmental advocacy groups contend the proposal is a dangerous giveaway that weakens environmental protections and lowers safety standards to subsidize wealthy developers.
Earth Justice is a nationwide environmental law firm founded in 1971, the year after the National Environmental Policy Act went in to effect. Colorado attorney Ted Zukoski staffs their Rocky Mountain office and he told KGNU’s Robin Ryan that he sees the proposal as a Trojan horse, penned to gut laws that hold developers and politicians accountable.