That’s a common question being tossed around not only domestically, but internationally as well. There are endless considerations with not much more than a vague concept of an answer right now. From social issues to immigration to terrorism, Trump has spewed rhetoric on a plethora of issues, but at best has revealed only hazy details of how he will address these topics. We should have an interesting year ahead as the national political shake-up continues, evolves and answers begin to emerge.
Trump wasn’t my first choice for president by a long shot. My personal opinion is that he’s a bombastic, narcissistic pig. On the other hand, I thought Hillary Clinton was a callous, cold-hearted, power-hungry criminal. For many Americans, our presidential choices represented the lesser of two evils. But Trump prevailed and some of his early actions – including his election-night victory speech – are somewhat encouraging.
Pundits claimed that a Trump victory would send Wall Street into a deep and long dive. Turns out the market did dive – for about two hours – before it came roaring back and has since stabilized. Seems like Wall Street was able to adjust to the new government direction very quickly. Chalk up another shocker and errant prediction by mass media.
Assuming that Trump can control his loose talk and successfully navigate through the +/-75 lawsuits he is now involved in, what impact will a Trump presidency have for water, sewer, telecom,energy, electric, etc.?
The infrastructure industry could certainly use a major shot in the arm. In addition to the multitude of incendiary comments he’s made over the past 18 months, Trump has also said many things that could be construed as positive for the business and, even more specifically, energy and public works climate.
Trump has consistently stated support of energy markets and disdain for onerous regulations and restriction, which should bode well for gas and liquids pipelines. He acknowledges not only the economic benefits of pipeline construction, but the need to transport energy to underserved regions in the most efficient – and safe – manner possible. For example, I’m betting the Dakota Access Pipeline will get an immediate and strong shove towards completion from the new president.
Trump also says he will approve the Keystone XL Pipeline project from Canada. Of course, he threw in a caveat that the U.S. government gets a piece of the Keystone action, so who knows for sure what that means and if it is even possible. With lower oil prices, it may come down to a simple matter of economics for the project’s owner, TransCanada.
However, the company has already indicated it will at least refile paperwork for the project with the U.S. State Department. A lot of “ifs” remain as to the future of the project, but if Trump and TransCanada do cut a deal, we’ll hear the wail of soon-to-be ex-President Obama’s avid environmental backbone of followers from the North to South Pole, since Keystone would transport oil from Canada’s Tar Sands region. Among environmental extremist groups, defeating Keystone was seen as a major victory and step towards the larger goal of shutting down the Tar Sands.
Trump has also consistently expressed support for investing in America’s infrastructure. While that’s extremely encouraging, a couple of points spring to mind. Firstly, infrastructure investment requires billions of dollars. In an economy of upside-down government spending, where will those billions come from? Trump and the Republican Congress are going to have to make some very tough financial decisions to jumpstart the economy. Let’s hope they realize that a major investment in infrastructure drives economic growth.
Secondly, our industry has to be prepared to assert itself in the process should infrastructure investment become a serious opportunity. Too many politicians have historically viewed infrastructure as roads, bridges and airports only when there is an equal, if not greater, need for underground piping investment.
While telecom has prospered, and continues to do so with the ever-increasing public appetite for fiber, most of the installations remain in more heavily populated areas. Much of Trump’s base has come from rural areas. I’ll be curious to see if he remembers that with investments such as fiber construction incentives in rural areas.
Running the business of government is a far cry from a private business. That doesn’t mean Trump won’t be successful, but it’s always good to remember that there isn’t Chapter 6 bankruptcy protection for the Federal government. His actions won’t impact dozens; Trump’s actions will affect millions every day.
Can Trump’s heart of a businessman translate well into the national government and, in particular, support for the underground infrastructure? I look forward to finding out.