Tip Sheets

Oil spill in CA points to problems with aging infrastructure

Media Contact

Rachel Rhodes

A pipeline began leaking oil off the coast of California this Saturday, as legislation designed to improve such infrastructure stalled in the House of Representatives.

Rick Geddes

Professor, Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy

Rick Geddes, professor and founding director of Cornell University’s Program in Infrastructure Policy, is an expert on the funding, financing and operation of civil and social infrastructure. 

Geddes says:

“The infrastructure bill promises to address some of American’s endemic infrastructure problems, including deferred maintenance, slow environmental permitting, and sometimes poor project selection.  

“The leak in the pipeline in California may have been due to deferred maintenance. Reports indicate that the facility operating the pipeline is old, and though it will take a long investigation to determine the causes of the leak, the spill does point to some of the serious problems with America’s aging infrastructure.

“The infrastructure bill currently pending in the House is both good and bad in terms of addressing these problems.

“It includes reform of the slow environmental permitting process in the form of the ‘one federal decision’ framework. It also allows for more use of user fees in the form of tolling, although it places constraints on their use. It also facilitates greater private involvement by doubling the cap on Private Activity Bonds from $15 billion to $30 billion. Moreover, it helps state and local infrastructure owners to improve infrastructure delivery by allocating $100 million for ‘capacity building’ educational efforts.”

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