An October 11th report titled, “An Economic Analysis of Infrastructure Investment,” which was prepared by the Department of the Treasury with the Council of Economic Advisers, evaluates the economic impact of the Obama administration’s infrastructure plan. The plan calls for investment of $50 billion in a six-year reauthorization of the surface transportation program, creation of a National Infrastructure Bank to leverage private capital for improvement projects, and rigorous analysis of proposed projects to identify those that yield the greatest returns to society and deliver long-term economic benefits.
- Well-designed infrastructure investments have long-term economic benefits;
- The middle class will benefit disproportionately from such investment;
- High level of underutilized resources that can be used to improve and expand U.S. infrastructure; and
- Strong demand by the public and private businesses for additional transportation infrastructure investments.
Design firms of all sizes are increasingly pursuing opportunities overseas. Firms have to learn about local business practices and expectations and make sure that their activities are in compliance with both local and U.S. law. The firms that have been successful in this arena have stressed to us that a comprehensive international business plan to help outline the goals along with a game plan for achieving these plans was essential to their success. Our risk management website has a section dedicated specifically to international practice that identifies some of the main issues.
FTC is Seeking Comments on Proposed Revisions
In response to the increased use of environmental marketing over the last few years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has set forth some proposed revisions to their already existing “Green Guides.” Green Guides are advertising guidelines that include principles, guidance, and examples on the use of environmental marketing. Green Guides was created by the FTC to protect consumers from “greenwashing” – the deceptive use of green marketing in order to mislead a consumer into believing that a company’s polices or products are environmentally friendly. The Green Guides also aims to help marketers avoid making misleading environmental claims. While they are not enforceable regulations, if the FTC finds that a marketer is making environmental claims that are inconsistent with Green Guides it may take action under Section 5 of the FTC act prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or practices.
The new proposal includes both revisions to the existing Green Guides as well as additions. Proposed additions address renewable material content claims, renewable energy claims, and carbon offset claims. Revisions clarify the circumstances under which marketers can make claims that a product is degradable, compostable, ozone-safe/ozone-friendly, recyclable, or non-toxic. The amendments also address marketers’ use of product certifications and seals of approval. The revisions aim to make it clear that marketers need to substantiate all expressed and implied claims involving the environment.
A Panel of Transportation Experts Search for Solutions
In September 2009, 80 transportation experts met for three days to discuss the transportation infrastructure in the United States, and their conclusions are troubling, to say the least. The highly-credentialed group concluded that if innovative reforms are not undertaken soon, the U.S. transportation infrastructure will lag so far behind other superpowers such as China, Russia, and European nations that it will lead to an erosion of social and economic foundations for American prosperity. The group believes that an additional $134 billion to $262 billion must be spent per year through 2035 in order to improve all aspects of the transportation infrastructure.
Where will the money come from? Clearly, new sources of funds will have to be found. The group suggested that a major increase in the federal gas tax could boost revenue in the short term, but in the long term Americans may have to pay one or two cents per every mile they drive, which would generate the revenue necessary for a long term investment in transportation infrastructure.
The report indicates that there will be a change in how transportation infrastructure is funded, procured, and maintained. This will change the risk profile of firms that perform infrastructure design.