Lynn Scarlett, Prominent Voice on Environment, Invited to White House to Promote Infrastructure

Lynn Scarlett, TNC, Global Managing Director (Photo by Cade Martin)

Kudos to President Trump and the White House for bringing greater attention to the issue of that nation’s infrastructure, including water infrastructure and opportunities to advance more green solutions.   This week, the White House convened some of the nation’s prominent voices, including Lynn Scarlett of The Nature Conservancy, to discuss the status of our nation’s infrastructure, including water infrastructure and ideas for adopting common-sense solutions.

I’m re-posting a Greenwire article that summarizes Scarlett’s message to President Trump, Secretary Perry, Administrator Pruitt, and some of the President’s top aides.  Administrator Pruitt has also made water infrastructure a priority for the EPA.   Despite the hand-wringing by many environmental groups, this Administration offers a unique opportunity for conservatives and liberals to work together to address some long-standing and growing environmental challenges, such as failing water infrastructure – and the associated public health and environmental threats – and ecological restoration.  Perhaps these groups who see litigation as the path forward should consider extending an olive branch.

Former Interior official makes infrastructure pitch to Trump

Robin Bravender, E&E News reporter

A prominent conservationist joined President Trump’s meeting yesterday to discuss infrastructure development.

Lynn Scarlett’s pitch: Infrastructure creation and the environment can go hand in hand.

Many environmental and conservation groups aren’t on the friendliest terms with the new administration, but the White House invited Scarlett of the Nature Conservancy — who was a top Interior Department official during the George W. Bush administration — to share her views about developing national infrastructure.

Scarlett, who’s global managing director for public policy at the conservation group, was on the guest list for yesterday’s meeting with U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and several business leaders (E&E News PM, March 8).  Scarlett was deputy Interior secretary and acting Interior secretary during the Bush administration.

“Certainly we were pleased to be included, and I think that inclusion was a demonstration of interest in these ideas,” Scarlett said today in an interview. She declined to comment on the specifics of what others in the meeting said.

She conveyed three main points during the discussion, she said.

For starters, “We, like so many others in the nation, recognize that antiquated infrastructure in poor repair actually has adverse consequences for the environment, so leaking water pipes, inadequate pipes and systems to manage stormwater result in runoff that finds its way into streams is bad for people and nature.”

She also touted the importance of “natural infrastructure, and as we think about infrastructure of the future, not simply building our way back into the past, but thinking creatively about new solutions for the future, and those include nature.”

When it comes to stormwater management, for example, efforts such as expanding tree canopies and green rooftops can help. “We know putting nature back into cities can in many respects be better, cheaper, smarter,” she said.

Scarlett also advocated to streamline permitting in a way that can benefit the environment.

“We do recognize that the decision processes are sometimes cumbersome, sometimes slow, that that stands in the way, both of advancing investments in green infrastructure but also in general,” she said.

“A central message for us is improving decisionmaking needs to bring together expedition and environment,” she said. “We can’t view those expedited processes or attempts to achieve them as a tradeoff with environment.”