March 26, 2018

Building an Infrastructure Package: Energy & Environment Symposium Examines Issues Driving the Infrastructure Debate

The Energy & Environment Symposium can be viewed in full via a LiveStream recording of the event.

A major infrastructure package is a legislative priority for both Congress and the Trump administration. What policy considerations will shape the debate on how to execute an infrastructure bill? And what issues need to be addressed in order to get multiple stakeholders on board? Faegre Baker Daniels’ fifth annual Energy & Environment Symposium, held March 14, tackled these issues in depth, bringing together various thought leaders who are invested in the buildout of domestic infrastructure.

Already, we have seen Congress enact major tax reform, freeing up capital for a number of industries. In addition, the White House has aggressively pursued regulatory reform across a variety of sectors as a way to encourage development. The symposium was a look at what is next, through the various lenses of Congress, the Trump administration and industry stakeholders. A brief summary of the sessions follows:

  • House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster kicked off the event with a summary of his vision for an infrastructure package — while acknowledging the lack of agreement around a funding mechanism. Chairman Shuster supports increasing the gas tax and believes that an infrastructure package may have its best chance during a lame duck session, after the 2018 elections this November.
  • A group of thought leaders then weighed in on the issues facing both industry and the government likely to play a prominent role in the infrastructure debate. The panel discussed a number of priorities from various perspectives, but all panelists agreed on the need for the federal government to provide a long-term planning horizon for large-scale projects.
  • Joe Balash, the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management for the U.S. Department of the Interior, discussed both the broad goals and specific objectives he has for his agency, highlighting some of the key reforms they are considering. The Department is actively exploring permit delays as well as incentives for producing more energy.
  • Several representatives from impacted industries talked about specific issues that needed to be addressed during this focus on infrastructure if the effort is to truly be impactful. Contributors shared a concern about human capital, noting that there may not be enough skilled workers to pursue all of the infrastructure projects under consideration.
  • Alex Herrgott, Associate Director of Infrastructure from the Council on Environmental Quality, closed the event out by providing attendees with a full view of the Trump administration’s philosophy surrounding its infrastructure push. Mr. Herrgott discussed the need for leveraged funding of projects and the dynamic between the federal government and the state and local partners.

Faegre Baker Daniels will continue to track the progress of a potential infrastructure bill, along with other legislative and regulatory developments impacting the energy sector. We will share analysis and bring together energy stakeholders through upcoming thought leadership efforts, including hosting several “Insights Luncheons” throughout the year that will examine specific policy issues with relevant speakers.

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