White House May be Looking to Up Pipeline Projects

White House May be Looking to Up Pipeline Projects

  • The White House is preparing measures that will reduce states’ powers over the approval or ban of new energy projects, notably oil and gas pipelines.
  • The implications of such measures would be bad news for a state such as New York, which has already put the brakes on a natural gas pipeline, but they could be good news for consumers.

The Trump administration is considering taking steps to limit the ability of states to block interstate gas pipelines and other energy projects, according to The Bloomberg Report. The effort seems to be aimed at states in the Northeast U.S., where opposition to pipeline projects has helped prevent shale gas in Pennsylvania and Ohio from reaching consumers in New York and other cities.

The initiative could help drive permitting and construction of other energy projects, including coal export terminals. For example, the Lighthouse Resources’ proposed coal export terminal in Longview, Washington, was affected when the state’s Department of Ecology denied a critical Clean Water Act permit, citing concerns about air quality and increased railroad traffic to serve the site.

The White House measure would line up with the views of pipeline advocates who say states are abusing their authority under the Clean Water Act.

“It just never made sense to me that a state could be able to use the Clean Water Act and effectively veto a federally approved project,” Dena Wiggins, president of the Natural Gas Supply Association, said during an event. “There’s got to be something to [be] done to address that issue.”

Despite a 140% boom in U.S. crude oil production and a 50% jump in natural gas output since shale took flight in 2008, the midstream infrastructure to pipe this new supply around the country has simply not kept up. This is a major problem because most experts agree pipelines are the safest and most economical way to transport energy.

Right now, the Northeast is struggling with growing electricity demand and insufficient supply. According to a FreightWaves.com, it’s due in part to pipeline opposition on the political level. The author of the report spoke with a scientist from the Institute for Energy Research.

“The New England states used to be dependent on coal, oil, nuclear and hydroelectricity. And they’ve shifted quickly to natural gas for generation[s], and they’ve shifted so fast that it has caused huge draws of natural gas into the system [pipelines] without increasing infrastructure,” Dan Kish told FreightWaves.com.

If the White House’s plans come to fruition, pipeline projects around the country that have been held up due to the Clean Water Act could be back on the table.

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