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It's not just the Keystone pipeline

Jan 19, 2012
Carter Wood

The delays and yesterday's denial by the Obama administration in granting g the permit of the Keystone XL pipeline are indicative of larger problems facing the U.S. economy, Business Roundtable President John Engler recently told reporters.

Engler met with eight reporters who cover the energy beat last Friday for an informal but on-the-record discussion about the Keystone pipeline and energy policy. Toward the end of the hourlong briefing, Engler commented:

One of the challenges for the country if that we have to be able to make decisions in a more timely fashion. And it’s not just in environmental decisions. … Is our FDA doing that much better of a job than everybody else in the rest of the world because it takes two years longer on a similar kind of decision?

I don’t know. This has been 1,000-plus days already on pipeline. Where’s the “can do” attitude again? When the bridge came down in Minnesota they got that rebuilt in record time. When they had the earthquake in California …did it cramp projects to rebuild bridges out there?

We have on occasion been able to step up and do things, but more often than not, today just getting the approval to go to yes is taking inordinate amounts of time. That has a negative effect on the economy. That makes you think twice and three times before you want to make an investment: “Jeez, can I run the gauntlet, can I really get the approvals that I need?” And I think that’s a problem.

And so is this a proxy for a whole bunch of other things that are taking a lot of time? Probably, to some extent yes.

I mean, we’ve got massive infrastructure needs in the country. We can save billions of dollars of costs related to that fixing infrastructure if we could simply make our decisions faster about going forward.

Coincidently, this video has been circulating the blog world -- a depiction of a 30-story building being built in China in 15 days. National Review contributor John Derbyshire wonders about the potential lack of quality control and violation of individual rights that might be involved in such speed, but observes tartly:

You still can’t help reflecting that with our mature technical expertise the U.S.A. could surely be as energetic and efficient as this, with decent quality control and without violating anyone’s property rights, if we were not cumbered with this great calciferous growth of regulation and litigation, most of it serving no-one but rent-seeking parasitic groups — unions, trial lawyers, federal bureaucrats, protectors of the snail darter, “diversity” set-asides, etc., etc.

Author

Senior Communications Advisor
Business Roundtable

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