Regulations kill infrastructure projects.
In explaining his plans for rebuilding America during “Infrastructure Week,” Trump proposed that “a few simple pages” of rules could replace the current complex regulations, boosting infrastructure projects. Trump’s promise echoed long-held conservative dogma that regulations, particularly environmental-review requirements, stifle major projects. For instance, in a report detailing alternatives for generating $1 trillion in infrastructure investment, the conservative Heritage Foundation suggested “reforming regulations that hamper infrastructure projects.”
But if job data is any indication, regulations do not result in an overall reduction of activity in the infrastructure sector, though they may change what kinds of projects are undertaken.
Since the publication of Rachel Carson’s classic book on environmentalism, “Silent Spring,” 55 years ago, the implementation of regulations — specifically environmental rules — has spurred infrastructure projects all over the country, from air pollution control to solar-power installations and more. In 2012, for example, a Maryland-based environmental group announced that cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay by upgrading sewage systems would create 240,000 jobs. And more regulations requiring, for example, smart grids to distribute renewable power would result in extensive project starts.