Trump signs orders making it tougher to block pipelines

Clay Curtis
April 13, 2019

Trump seems willing to go to any lengths necessary to get the job done.

The Trump administration on Wednesday will announce two executive orders aimed at freeing up more pipelines to supply the United States with oil and gas.

Szybist also questioned to what extent pipeline permitting in Pennsylvania will be affected by the order, given that the state has not experienced some of the same high-profile fights over pipelines as its neighbors that have denied projects under the Clean Water Act. The order slated to be released Wednesday focuses on promoting projects with facilities or land transportation crossings at US borders. Whether that actually happens will remain to be seen.

"An executive order can not take off the table the ability of a state to say no for reasons it believes are appropriate, and the venue for adjudicating that is not the White House" - it's the courts, Tezak said.

Though any order stripping states of regulatory authority is likely to be fought in the courts, Trump says his move will prevent states like NY from "hurting the economy". The Obama administration opted to shut down that pipeline, but the Trump administration has sought to reopen it. It says that any decision to issue or deny a cross-border permit shall be made exclusively by President Donald Trump. His latest permit is also being challenged in court.

Trump's pipeline order is set to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to revise its handbook for how states can use their certification power to vet projects that cross wetlands, rivers and other bodies of water.

For years, the pipeline regulator known as FERC has taken what tribes, states, environmentalist activists, and others describe as a lax approach to pipeline approval, leaving it to states to decide whether to allow a project after a minimal federal safety review. "New Yorkers will not stand by and let the president fast-track pipelines that should not be built". It takes aim at states like NY that have blocked pipeline projects that would carry Marcellus Shale gas to markets in the Northeast, where gas is not always readily available.

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One order directs the transportation secretary to propose allowing liquefied natural gas, a liquid form of the fuel, to be shipped in approved rail cars. The second order transfers authority over approving construction of worldwide pipelines from the secretary of state to the president. "And the president, not the bureaucracy, will have sole authority to make the final decision when we get caught up in problems". "Under this administration, we've ended the war on American energy". He did not explicitly say how states' authority should change, but he said the EPA's review should focus on "the need to promote timely Federal-State cooperation and collaboration" and "the appropriate scope of water quality reviews".

He said the measures would help ease the permitting process and help investment energy projects.

Connecting the two requires building pipelines across NY state - something Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation have persistently blocked, declining to grant the necessary water quality permits.

Ong maintained that states must play an essential role in protecting their own waters.

Inslee is making climate change a top issue in his run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. "Projects like the Millennium Bulk Terminal in Washington would provide a boost not only for Wyoming's coal mines, but for America's economy as a whole".

President Donald Trump went after New York's blocking of natural gas pipelines from passing through the state.

He signed the orders at a training center for petroleum industry workers near Houston, an event sandwiched between fundraising events for the 2020 campaign.

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