President Donald J. Trump signs orders making it harder to block pipelines
President Donald J. Trump signed two executive orders designed to speed up oil and gas pipeline projects. According to AP, the action came after officials in Washington state and New York used the permitting process to stop new energy projects in recent years, prompting complaints from Republican members of Congress and the fossil fuel industry.
“Too often badly needed energy infrastructure is being held back by special interest groups, entrenched bureaucracies and radical activists,” Trump said before signing the orders, according to AP.
The Trump administration has insisted it was not trying to take power away from the states but, rather, trying to make sure that state actions follow the intent of the Clean Water Act, according to AP. Under a section of the law, companies must get certification from the state before moving ahead with an energy project.
New York regulators stopped a natural gas pipeline, saying it failed to meet standards to protect streams, wetlands and other water resources. Also, less than a week ago, nearly a dozen business groups told Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler that the environmental review and permitting process for energy projects “has become a target for environmental activists and states that oppose the production and use of fossil fuels.”
According to AP, the groups said in a letter that individual states should not be able to use provisions of the Clean Water Act “to dictate national policy, thereby harming other states and the national interest and damaging cooperative federalism.”
President Trump singled out New York for his harshest criticism, saying “obstruction” by the state “was hurting the country,” according to AP.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called Trump’s executive order a overreach that would undermine his state’s ability to protect water quality and the environment, according to AP.
“States must have a role in the process for siting energy infrastructure like pipelines, and any efforts to curb this right to protect our residents will be fought tooth and nail,” Cuomo said.