Food & Water Watch is partnering with Democracy Forward's Infrastruture Accountability Initiative on a series of lawsuits and joint actions designed to hold the Trump Administration accountable for an infrastructure plan that is poised to enrich Trump’s cronies at the expense of the American people. This week, Democracy Forward's newsletter, SIDEBAR, looks deeper at some of the Trump administration's infrastructure dealings outlined in its report, Blueprint for Cronyism. The following is an excerpt:
President Trump’s infrastructure plan may not provide a blueprint for rebuilding our roads or creating good paying jobs, but it does provide a blueprint for cronyism. The self-dealing approach Trump has already taken on infrastructure provides a window into who his plan would leave behind, and who it would help make rich.
—Trump rolled back flood regulations his infrastructure advisor’s firm opposed. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, President Obama issued an Executive Order to “address current and future flood risk and ensure that projects funded with taxpayer dollars last as long as intended.” In implementing the E.O., the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed a rule increasing elevation requirements for projects receiving HUD assistance located in flood plains. However, on August 15, 2017—two weeks before Hurricane Irma slammed into the Gulf—Trump issued his own E.O. revoking the new flood protections, stopping the HUD proposal in its tracks.
SIDEBAR: From Trump’s inauguration until two days after Trump issued the E.O., billionaire real-estate developer Richard LeFrak co-chaired the President’s illegal Infrastructure Council. LeFrak’s company spent up to $320,000 lobbying on the “Flood map issue” between 2013 and 2016, and had long opposed new flood protections. It’s clear why: Post-Sandy flood protections had increased development costs for a LeFrak development in Jersey City, requiring the company to raise the height of its site by about three feet before starting construction.
—He gutted pipeline safety rules cited as financial “risks” to an investment held by another infrastructure advisor’s firm. In 2010, a gas pipeline exploded in California, killing eight people and injuring dozens more. In response, Congress passed a law requiring the Department of Transportation (DOT) to revise gas pipeline safety regulations. After six years of work, DOT issued a proposed rule in 2016 to strengthen inspection and repair requirements for gas pipelines, and prevent an estimated 40 accidents each year. During the last week of the Obama Administration, DOT also issued a pre-publication copy of a similar rule for hazardous liquid pipelines. But since taking office, Trump has delayed the gas pipeline safety rule for at least a year and has indefinitely withheld finalizing the hazardous liquid pipeline rule.