There they go again! The "they" is Team Biden. The "again" is another round of massive regulatory increases that will cost millions of hard-hat blue collar jobs and prevent any new energy pipelines, probably new utilities and virtually stop the construction of new or extended bridges, highways and tunnels.
The move will significantly raise environmental reviews of all these infrastructure type projects, completely reversing one of Donald Trump's best policies which streamlined NEPA (National Environment Policy Act) permits and timetables.
This issue is dear to my heart because President Trump's infrastructure reforms were developed in our National Economic Council, where I worked closely with Andrew Olmem and Francis Brooke.
It used to take seven, 10, even 15 years to get a new building permit through the executive branch. Trump brought that down to one to two years and took out excessive, unscientific, radical enviro approval layers.
One of the wonderful things about this new Biden environmental review is that despite the fact the application of dubious, new environmental standards—which will cut across numerous executive agencies and therefore cause a huge stall in project decisions—the Bidens are with a straight face, arguing that this will actually reduce regulations.
"Restoring these basic community safeguards will provide regulatory certainty, reduce conflict and help ensure projects get built right the first time," according to White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory.
Notice, she didn't say projects would get built on time. She said projects will get built right the first time, but the first time could be forever, or maybe even never.
By the way, this executive order makes a mockery of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed with Republican votes last fall. Only about 10% of the $1.2 trillion would've gone to bridges, roads and tunnels anyway, but the Biden executive overreach could shrink those projects to nothing.
Now, here are a few of the add-ons that are supposed to result in less red tape. First of all, their new enviro impact statement will include a so-called cumulative impact on existing or new projects. Cumulative. That could go back a century or even forward a century and there's no way to measure it.
This is the reappearance of the radical left climate activist idea of the social cost of carbon; back a century, forward a century, upstream producers and/or downstream users.
You think anybody could figure that out? They're just ginning up a high social carbon cost that will lead them to reject any new infrastructure projects and incidentally, besides the word "cumulative," these new regs that are supposed to cut red tape (Got it? More regs, less red tape.) will also include direct and indirect impacts on the environment.
These multiple new enviro reviews include the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, along with the enviro impact.
This makes a mockery of the infrastructure legislation that came up with the "one federal decision" policy, because all these impacts from carbon, birds—
Remember the lesser male prairie chicken endangered species flap that endangered the entire Permian Basin oil and gas reservoir?
You add all this up—and for heaven's sakes we mustn't forget the EPA which is chock full of Biden radicals —and you'll need signoffs for water and air. The Federal Highway Administration inside the Transportation Department that is supposed to make these decisions will never be able to make them because all these project reviews cover so many agencies that it literally will take forever.
Let us add however, that the new rules specify that any new projects—and that includes, let’s say, a widening of a clogged highway somewhere in a high growth red state, or any construction expansion that was so-called unplanned, whatever that means—will be put to the bottom of the pile of the administrators. I'm not making this up. This is specified in the fine print.
Then finally, of course, this being the Bidens, there will be special attention to so-called disadvantaged communities and under-represented groups. Their new rule supposedly reconnect these disadvantaged communities and under-represented groups.
But if you can't build a new highway, or bridge, or road, or utility, how can you connect them? Especially any new construction will be put at the bottom of the pile in the administrator's inbox, but going to the top of the pile of this infamous inbox are projects that would help electric vehicles, charging stations and renewable energy generation.
Someone has to help me here because my free speech hero Elon Musk and his new electric vehicles would presumably ride on new highways, but the Federal Highway Administration won't build a new highway because it’s new and would have too many environmental problems, cumulatively.
At some point, somebody's going to take this new Biden executive order to the federal courts and quite possibly the Supreme, because their new rules are a rewrite of the infrastructure law just passed in Congress and that's not the role of regulators.
Finally, because all the Biden lefty greenies are once again driving policy, it makes a mockery not only of the just passed infrastructure bill—that wasn't very good anyway—but it tells you that the Biden war against fossil fuels is alive and well.
Pipelines will not pass the new review process. Infrastructure for drilling or mining projects, to let’s say extract minerals like nickel, copper, and lithium to go into batteries, will be stopped.
The net-net of all this is that millions of hard-hat blue-collar and related service jobs will be lost. The middle class and those right below it will suffer enormously as a result of the radical enviros in the Biden administration and trust me folks, when it comes to a new project, more review areas covering more federal agencies will not reduce regulation, but will increase it enormously.
Biden's falsehoods can't change that, but here's the good news: The cavalry is coming.
This article is adapted from Larry Kudlow's opening commentary on the April 20, 2022, edition of "Kudlow."