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Public Works v. ESA, NEPA, CWA etc

Sunday, December 7, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The president-elect is promising a massive public works campaign.

After 18 years as a natural resources lawyer, I can confidently say that no matter what the project and no matter who the sponsor, any major new public works project will be opposed by local environmental activists and usually by one or more of the big national groups as well. They have many weapons to use, including the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act not to mention state counterparts to all of these, and many more laws and regulations as well.

I often write about these issues, andI expect Obama’s push to be very good for my law practice as project proponents lawyer up to try and shepherd newly funded big ticket plans through the regulatory maze, but it is absurd to think of public works as an economic stimulus that will work quickly. The idea that major new projects will launch and get workers pouring concrete and building roads, bridges and ports simply ignores the knots that the environmental laws of the U.S. and the states have tied in the development process, and the bigger the project the bigger the knot.

Look, in southern California, the biggest public works project that could get underway quickly is a toll road in Orange County, planned for decades and ready to go.

Except environmentalists hate it and oppose progress on it at every step in the process.

Passionate no-growth activists or endangered species groups are not going to abandon their agendas because the economy needs a pop. If the president-elect wants public works to help the economy, the legislation authorizing those works is also going to have to reform the web of environmental laws that govern such undertakings.

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Getting Twitter Smart

Sunday, December 7, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

After this column and this column, and this conversation, e-mailers are asking me for guidance on how best to use Twitter.

Wrong. Instead, sign up for a Twitter mentor here. It is easy after a bit, like a bike.

Get Something Back, GOP

Friday, December 5, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

As I discussed with economic guru Brian Wesbury on tonight’s show, the GOP should demand a real concession as part of a quick deal to get Detroit cash. I think the price from the Dems should be a cut in the corporate tax rate for MI- and OH-headquartered businesses to Ireland’s 12.5%. As Wesbury said, it would spark a huge economic revival in the Wolverine and Buckeye states –just huge. And the teaching moment would be huge as well.

Detroit is going to get the money now or in February. So get something worth having, House and Senate GOP.

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