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  • Left Begins to Recognize NEPA's Role in Stimulus Failure

    President Barack Obama’s $814 billion stimulus has been a tremendous objective failure. The White House promised that unemployment would never rise above 8%. But this month the unemployment rose to 9.8 percent, marking the 19th consecutive month that our nation’s unemployment rate topped 9 percent, a post–World War II record. The failure of Obama’s economic stimulus is so evident that now even the left is beginning to ask why. Former Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee member and Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson notes in his op-ed today:

    When Democratic senators and representatives voted to approve the $787 billion stimulus package nearly two years ago, the ones who came from swing states and districts knew they were taking a political risk. What they didn’t know was that the economic benefits of the stimulus would become so entangled in red tape that even today, much of that money remains unspent.

    At September’s end, just one-third of the $4.5 billion allocated to California for transportation projects had been spent, the state’s Web site shows. In Texas, just 5 percent of the funds allocated to the largest energy project had been expended, while in New York City, only 27 percent of the funds allocated for infrastructure and 3 percent of those targeted for improving energy efficiency had been spent. Some of this money is for long-term projects, but most of it isn’t.

    So why is stimulus money on infrastructure not creating jobs? Meyerson first blames technology, reasoning that the “pick-and-shovel” projects of the New Deal have been replaced by “labor-saving (and job-reducing) machines.” Perhaps Meyerson believes the federal government could better create jobs by banning the use of computers. But next he stumbles upon some truth:

    Part of the answer is that big government (the stimulus) was slowed by good-government requirements (environmental impact reports, competitive bidding and the like) that didn’t exist in the ’30s.

    This is undeniably true. As we predicted before the stimulus was even signed into law, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) alone is red tape enough to kill the stimulative impact of any governemnt funded infrastructure project. Normally it takes a federal construction projects an average of 4.4 years to complete a NEPA review. Throw in the Clean Water Act’s section 404 requirements, and before a single shovel can hit the earth it usually takes 5.6 years for the average federal project to jump through all the normal environmental hoops.

    Conservatives like Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) even offered an amendment that would have exempted federal stimulus projects from NEPA. But the enviro left was frightened that such an exemption might create a precedent for repealing NEPA and defeated it.

    Perhaps all those liberals fretting over how to get unemployment below 8% might want to reconsider those priorities.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to Left Begins to Recognize NEPA's Role in Stimulus Failure

    1. JERRY POTTER says:

      MAY BE IF THE SENATE AND CONGRESS QUIT FIGHTING EACH OTHER AND DO THEIR JOBS. THEIR JOB IS NOT( THE GOOD OLD BOY'S CLUB.) WE HAVE MEMBERS THAT PLAYS GAMES ON THE COMPUTERS WHILE THEY SHOUD BE READING THE CONTENTS OF THE BILL BEFORE THEM. THERE SHOULDN'T BE THREE OR FOUR BILLS ROLLED INTO ONE TO BE VOTE ON. THIS IS HOW ALOT OF THINGS GET PASSED THAT SHOULDN'T BEEN PASS. SINGLE VOTE ON EACH BILL.

    2. Bobbie says:

      Meyerson and everyone in support of and behind the so-called "job stimulus" do not have the excuse of "technology" slowing down the job force. If this obvious fact wasn't thought of from the beginning we are dealing with some overpaid, retarded and incompetent thinkers at tax payers expense! We have to demand decency and honesty of our leaders. Isn' t that sad? So, will the left see everything the way everything is?…or will they cover it up?

      Get rid of the red tape and all entities along with all costs.

      WE WANT GOVERNMENT CUT!!!!!

      CUT EVERYWHERE OUTSIDE CONSTITUTIONAL MEANS!!!

    3. Brad, Chicago says:

      The real question here, is: Did the President have any idea the process might take this long when he talked about those "shovel-ready jobs"? I see two potential answers. Either he did know and, therefore, lied or he didn't know and his people lied to him or are incompetent.

      I will agree with Meyerson's assessment that some of the money was probably spent on technological upgrades that decreased the need for labor. At the same time as these upgrades decrease the necessry staff for a business, they increase its stability and ability to maintain the jobs of the rest of the staff, so you could give them credit for some "saved or created" jobs, even if the number isn't measurable.

    4. Penny R. Freeman Sou says:

      Obama didn't have a clue what the affects of the stimulus would be, nor did he care. I've said it before and I'll say it again-He's Soros's puppet. He was pushed into office by Soros and the labor unions. Why? Soros's and Obama's main goal is to destroy our government and economy so they can create an America they like. The labor unions were big contributors to Obama's campaign because he promised them big benefits-for the union bosses, of course. Stay on the look out he's still going to be pushing card check and public employees' monopoly bargaining in 2011 (police and firefighters, at least just those for a start). Obama never had any intention or concern for fulfilling his campaign promises. His concern was getting into office and doing everything he could from the inside to help his radical buddies destroy this country.

    5. SARA TUCKER says:

      Get OBAMA out! He and his administration have rigged and corrupted America so bad that it will take forever for our new CONSERVATIVE congress to change things

      AND THEY HAD BETTER FIGHT FOR CONSERVATISIM!!!

      NOTHING BUT CONSERVATISIM …DO YOU HEAR US

      CONGRESS? FIGHT FOR IT! DO NOT GIVE IN.

    6. EHeassler says:

      This is indicative of the wall of regulations, fees, licensing, and penalties that stand between an idea and it's implementation in the marketplace whether it be a new product or new construction. If this discourages business at the corporate level, just imagine how intimidating and stifling it is to small business startups that require any type of construction. The gummint is here to help just as long as we comply with the thousands of pages of regulations governing just about everything from the size and height of toilet seats to the shift patterns in automobiles No wonder busieness are fleeing the U.S. by the droves. This has been happening for years, but this administration is even more hostile than most toward busienss and has created tens of thousands of pages of new anti-business, anti-growth regulations. And all while declaring how pro-job they are.! Simply amazing!.

    7. Tommy, Arizona says:

      If they ever did an audit to determine how much money is spent by the government and the private sector to comply with all the environmental requirements and the endangered species act it would be shocking! We could probably pay off a lot of the deficit with that money. There has got to be a better way. Where do the "tree-huggers" get all that money to file constant law suits? It has become an actual profession.

    8. Robert Galloway Plym says:

      "When Democratic senators and representatives voted to approve the $787 billion stimulus package nearly two years ago, the ones who came from swing states and districts knew they were taking a political risk. What they didn’t know was that the economic benefits of the stimulus would become so entangled in red tape that even today, much of that money remains unspent."

      What they didn't know???

      Where have they been all their lives?

      The Federal Government must be in charge of national defence. At least, I know of no other way. Our military is mucked up beyond belief. Our soldiers and their leaders are some of the best folks in our nation. Overall, the military stinks. Soldiers succeed in spite of, not because of. Do you want the rest of the country to operate similarly?

      Get the Federal Government out of our daily lives. They can only make things worse. THEY CAN ONLY MAKE THINGS WORSE!!!!

      Sincerely,

      Robert H. Galloway

      USArmy Retired.

    9. liberals gone wild says:

      all members of congress, both the house and the senate need to be drug tested daily and they need to blow in the tube for alcohol before each floor vote. There should also be a revamp in their pay to somewhere between zero and E-1 pay. even then they would be overpaid. anyone who voted for the Porkulus needs to be in Ft Levenworth making little ones out of big ones with a 16 pound maul.

    10. Stephen, Baltimore says:

      Ignoring the argument over whether stimulus funding has been an overall success or failure, it is worth correcting your misleading characterization of how long it takes to complete a National Environmental Policy Act review. On November 5, 2010 CEQ submitted its seventh report to Congress on the status of NEPA compliance for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) projects and activities. The report examines NEPA compliance by fifteen Executive Branch departments and nine agencies as of September 30, 2010.

      Since the last report submitted on August 2, 2010, more than 5,600 NEPA reviews have been completed bringing the total number of completed NEPA reviews to nearly 187,000. In total, close to 180,000 categorical exclusions were applied, more than 6,800 Environmental Assessments were completed, and 824 Environmental Impact Statements were completed. The completed environmental reviews support completion of over 250,000 projects funded by approximately 293 billion dollars of ARRA funds. When one considers that close to 98% (over 200,000 completed!) of NEPA reviews for Federal agency ARRA projects are completed on time and within 18 months of the stimuls being passed, it becomes clear that the statistics used to substantiate the claim that NEPA are grossly misleading. It is true that EISs can take years to complete. However, most projects do not require an EIS or the less time-consuming EA. The vast majority of projects comply with NEPA through the application of categorical exclusions cause and cause no delay.

    11. Pete Alaska says:

      Yes, it is true that CE's are less cumbersom than EA's and EIS's but any job that is a CE is going to be small in comparison and will not employee many people. In the case of the proposed gas line in Alaska, there are 27 agencies involved and every single one of them has veto or stopping authority. There are way too many fingers in the pudding preventing the flow of work going forward. In many of these jobs like the gas line, the environmental impacts are known because there has been previous infrastructure upheaval in the past concerning the environment. NEPA is still a hinderance and if it wasn't for the federal government suspending the process law from being followed, the Trans Alaska Oil Pipeline could still be in litigation. This country had better wake up and realize that the environmenal left is hijacking our national security and at the same screaming that we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. You can't have it both ways.

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