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Voinovich Executive-in-Residence to present at EPA Infrastructure Roundtable

Austin Stahl March 1, 2013

Mike Zimmer

 

Mike Zimmer, an executive-in-residence at the Voinovich School and practicing lawyer at Thompson Hine LLP, will be discussing the future of the nation's infrastructure at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters in Washington, D.C. on March 27.

Zimmer will be speaking alongside representatives from KKR (private equity), Patton Boggs (transport infrastructure law), the Ullico Infrastructure Fund, Credit Suisse Infrastructure Investment, Booz Allen Hamilton (technology consulting), Malachite Real Estate Advisory, and the U.S. EPA Office of Sustainable Communities. The roundtable serves as an outside advisory group to the EPA and is comprised of people with an interest of advising the EPA on ways to improve policy. The focus of the meeting is to help develop environmental finance policies for the future, especially in regards to the second term of the Obama Administration.

Infrastructure has historically been seen as a public mission, but because of budget limitations at all levels of government, alternative funding models for projects are becoming increasingly important. Access to capital is one issue that will be discussed at the roundtable.

"The end result might be a smaller public role and an infusion of private capital that would have been done solely with public funds in the past, otherwise it wouldn't get done," Zimmer said in an interview before the event. "The idea is to find alternative mechanisms to get the job done and blend capital resources to people with different goals and find hybrid structures where that can be accommodated."

Investment in and development of "green infrastructure" is one solution to replace the aging infrastructure in the U.S. The EPA describes green infrastructure as infrastructure that "uses natural hydrologic features to manage water and provide environmental and community benefits." This can include plants on rooftops and the utilization of wetlands and rain gardens to cool urban heat islands, capture storm water runoff, filter water, and mitigate flooding.

Zimmer said more innovation and creative approaches to infrastructure challenges have been coming from coastal states, cities and counties as compared to the federal government and states that don't necessarily share the same level of commitment to modernization.

"The coasts have become more active in pursuing green infrastructure policies, technology deployment, and investment," Zimmer said. "It's an issue of quality of life, modernization, economic values and development, job creation, and attracting talented thought leaders and people coming out of school to gravitate and live and work in those communities."