Trump's order would make it harder for states to block pipelines

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President Donald Trump has signed an executive order seeking to limit states' powers in the approval or rejection of new oil and gas pipeline projects.

Needless to say, oil and gas companies are pretty enthused about these orders.

The goal here is to keep some states, like NY and Washington, from using CWA permitting to kill major energy projects.

CNBC reports the signing was scheduled for a trip to Texas yesterday, and expectations are that opponents of new oil and gas infrastructure will challenge it in court.

"New York is hurting the country because they're not allowing us to get these pipelines through", Trump said in the press conference. Important cross-border projects will generate significant state and local tax revenues that can be invested into American communities, said the Trump administration.

Trump's move comes less than a week after almost a dozen business groups told EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler that the environmental review and permitting process for energy infrastructure projects "has become a target for environmental activists and states that oppose the production and use of fossil fuels".

Washington state blocked the building of a coal terminal in 2017, saying there were too many major harmful effects including air pollution, rail safety and vehicle traffic.

NY regulators stopped a natural gas pipeline, saying it failed to meet standards to protect streams, wetlands and other water resources.

The Environmental Protection Agency will review and update the "outdated guidance" regarding certification under section 401 of the Clean Water Act.

Environmental groups described Trump's order as an effort to short-circuit a state's ability to review complicated projects, putting at risk a state's ability to protect drinking water supplies and wildlife. "I will continue to fight to increase funding for the Chesapeake Bay and oppose attempts to erode states' rights under the federal Clean Water Act".

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The official said the agency would have to follow normal procedures, including a comment period, and that projects already tied up in litigation "are obviously a much longer-term issue". "Regardless of what the current administration may desire, Oregon DEQ is committed to assuring Oregon's water quality is fully protected for current and future generations".

The Clean Water Act wasn't "intended to give a state veto power", Dena Wiggins, president of the Natural Gas Supply Association, told Bloomberg News.

Environmental groups slammed the president's move. "From the Dirty Water Rule to rolling back protections against toxic pollutants from power plants, this is now the next step in the Trump administration's all-out assault on our clean water", the League of Conservation Voters said in a statement.

Trump signed the orders in Crosby, Texas, while visiting the International Union of Operating Engineers International Training and Education Center, a union-run company.

Trade groups representing the oil and gas industry applauded the orders and said greater access to natural gas benefits families and the environment.

According to the Wall Street Journal, that same executive order also deals with investments, directing the Department of Labor to "scrutinize whether retirement funds that pursue environmental or socially progressive investment strategies are fulfilling their duty to maximize shareholder value". Some lawyers have noted the states' powers to grant or refuse permits for federal infrastructure projects are stipulated in federal law and a presidential order can not trump this.

He also highlighted that under his new order, U.S. presidents would have sole authority to approve or disprove pipeline projects that cross borders.

Trump's executive orders follow his granting last month of a new permit for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to bring oil from Canada to the US.

At the urging of business groups, Trump signed two executive orders created to speed up oil and gas pipeline projects.

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