Trump axes infrastructure council

Source: Camille von Kaenel, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, August 21, 2017

President Trump’s planned advisory panel on infrastructure “will not move forward,” a White House spokeswoman said.

The Advisory Council on Infrastructure, chaired by New York developers Richard LeFrak and Steven Roth, would have helped Trump develop a plan to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure spending.

The cancellation follows Trump’s announcement he is disbanding two other advisory panels. Business leaders had started quitting the American Manufacturing Council and Strategic and Policy Forum in protest after Trump’s comments on white supremacists and the weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Va.

Trump first announced that LeFrak and Roth, whom he described as friends, would advise him on infrastructure in January and set up the advisory council in an executive order July 19 (E&E Daily, July 20). The 15 members of the council would have been tasked with reporting on the “funding, support and delivery of infrastructure projects,” including as they relate to environmental policy.

Environmental group Food & Water Watch accused Trump in a lawsuit July 25 of violating sunshine laws by not opening meetings of the council to the public (Greenwire, July 26).

Trump this week signed an executive order seeking to speed infrastructure development by setting a two-year goal for completion of the permitting process and rolling back environmental rules. The White House is also working on a legislative proposal to spur more state, local and private spending, but officials have not yet agreed how to pay for the $200 billion boost in federal cash, and the chances of getting a bill through Congress this year are dimming.