- President Trump signed two executive orders that he says will speed up construction of pipelines and other projects to enhance the production and transportation of oil and natural gas between states and across international borders.
- The actions will probably attract legal challenges by state governments seeking to preserve control over such projects.
“Too often, badly needed energy infrastructure is being held back by special-interest groups, entrenched bureaucracies, and radical activists,” Trump said during a visit to a union training center for operating engineers 25 miles outside of Houston. “The two executive orders that I’ll be signing in just a moment will fix this, dramatically accelerating energy infrastructure approvals.”
One order directs the Environmental Protection Agency to review and tighten rules to make it more difficult for states to scuttle pipelines by invoking provisions of the Clean Water Act.
The other executive order would transfer authority for approving the construction of international pipelines from the secretary of state to the president, eliminating a lengthy State Department review process. The goal is to speed up projects like the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.
Trump issued a new presidential permit last month to Keystone XL, which has been delayed since the early years of the Obama administration. But the pipeline is being contested in the courts by environmentalists, farmers, and some Native American groups.
The orders direct federal officials to pursue policies designed to expedite projects. For example, the president is telling Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to review barriers to financing energy projects, including decisions by universities and pension funds to divest from oil, gas, and coal companies, and he is instructing the Transportation Department to allow freight railroads and tanker trucks to haul liquefied natural gas, a growing export commodity.
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