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Trump's State of the Union hints at infrastructure investment funding

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President Donald Trump's first State of the Union address offered few specifics regarding his much-discussed infrastructure investment plan, though it did offer hope the package could be a major issue as Congress settles into its second session.

The poor state of infrastructure in the United States has been a growing concern across a plethora of commercial and industrial sectors, with the American Society of Civil Engineers giving the country's overall infrastructure a "D+" grade on its 2017 Infrastructure Report Card.

"As we rebuild our industries, it is also time to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure," Trump said. "I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve."

The president called upon legislators to set aside partisanship in crafting a bill that would generate at least $1.5 trillion for infrastructure investments.

The money would address fixes estimated by CMS Energy Corp. Chuck Hookham to cost at minimum $4.6 trillion during a hearing held by the House Subcommittee on Energy and Commerce last year. Funding offered through Trump's infrastructure bill would help, but still leave a sizeable shortfall.

"Every federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with state and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment, to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit," Trump said last night.

In addition to providing money for repair and improvement work, the president's ideal legislation would also streamline the permitting and licensing processes associated with many infrastructure works.

"America is a nation of builders," Trump said. "We built the Empire State Building in just one years. Is it not a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?"

Trump did not specifically speak specifically to dam safety or the hydropower market during the State of the Union, though federal lawmakers have seemed keen to address both areas through the infrastructure bill.

Highlighted by events like the incident at California's Oroville Dam last February and damage throughout the south in the 2016 hurricane season, members of congress have been asking for more stringent dam safety protocols and money for improvement programs.

Additionally, several bills were proposed to, and were passed by, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives during the first congrssional session, including the Hydropower Modernization Act of 2017, which would have been significant as more than 500 projects are nearing their time for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission relicensing.

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