The Corner

Re: Obama and the Keynesian Revival

One important thing to bear in mind amongst all the talk of massive new infrastructure projects is that existing Federal regulation actually threatens to block or greatly delay many of them. That’s why Gov. Schwarzenegger recently wrote to the President-elect asking him, among other things, to “[w]aive or greatly streamline National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) requirements.” Environmental groups reacted with horror, of course, saying that, “If such safeguards are removed at federal and state levels, billions of dollars of new, polluting projects could receive federal funding priority over approved clean projects that are designed to protect public health and natural resources.” One of the silver linings of the recession is that it is revealing quite how much of a burden environmental regulations are on the economy, something that tends to be masked in good times. Something, either environmental regulation or infrastructure spending, has to give here. Obama’s reaction to the letter will reveal which it is.

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