Executive order establishes infrastructure advisory council

Source: Camille von Kaenel, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, July 20, 2017

President Trump is setting up a new advisory council on infrastructure in the Commerce Department that will tackle environmental policy, among other issues.

The 15-member council will report on “funding, support, and delivery of infrastructure projects in several sectors, including surface transportation, aviation, ports and waterways, water resources, renewable energy generation, electricity transmission, broadband, pipelines, and other such sectors as determined by the Council,” according to an executive order issued last night.

The members of the council, whom Trump will select, will have expertise in at least “real estate, finance, construction, communications and technology, transportation and logistics, labor, environmental policy, regional and local economic development.”

The council expands the coterie of aides working out the details of Trump’s vision to spur nearly $1 trillion in state, local and private spending on infrastructure, although it is unclear how it will fit with the existing initiative.

So far, White House aides DJ Gribbin and Alex Herrgott have led efforts, focusing primarily on streamlining and updating the environmental permitting process within federal agencies. Representatives from 16 agencies have been working on a legislative proposal, expected to come to Congress this fall, but have yet to agree how to pay for $200 billion in additional federal funding.

Conservative groups have seen the White House’s focus on infrastructure as an opportunity to roll back environmental rules and laws, including the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act.