Will Enviros Permit Recovery?

Jul 8, 2009

The USA Today reports: "Under pressure to spend stimulus money quickly, many states are using the federal funds for short-term projects and to fill budget gaps rather than spending on long-term improvements, according to a report by congressional investigators."

The report would be by the GAO on the Recovery Act addressing "States' and Localities' Current and Planned Uses of Funds While Facing Fiscal Stresses." One interesting omission in the report is a comprehensive assessment of getting environmental permits as a limiting factor to stimulus. In fact the only mention of environmental clearances is the Highway Infrastructure Investment section, which says "Across the nation, almost half of the obligations have been for pavement improvement projects because they did not require extensive environmental clearances..."

We checked in with the GAO who verified that highway projects were picked that didn’t require a lot of environmental clearance. Given the obstructions faced by energy infrastructure projects (see Pickens, T. Boone) I suppose this makes sense, but jeez, given our huge national infrastructure needs, at some point we need to move beyond painting the outhouse.

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