Trump introduces orders to fast track pipelines

The first orders the US Environmental Protection Agency to review and update “outdated” guidance that allows states to block oil and gas pipelines by withholding certification under a section of the Clean Water Act.

Additionally, the order will make it easier for gas to be transported when a pipeline can’t be used by stipulating an update to safety regulations, which would allow transport of the resource in approved railroad tank cars.

The second Executive Order gives the President the authority to issue or deny a permit for cross-border infrastructure projects.

The White House said the Secretary of State will continue to receive permit applications and will provide advice to the president on whether a project would serve US foreign policy interests.

Mr Trump signed the orders in Texas, US at the International Union of Operating Engineers International Training and Education Center.

“Nobody in the world can do what you folks do,” said Mr Trump.

“And we’re going to make it easier for you.

“I am signing two ground breaking Executive Orders to continue the revival of American industry and jobs.

“My action today will cut through destructive permitting delays and denials so we can get to work producing the energy we need to compete around the world.”

The move is unlikely to go unchallenged, with the governors’ offices of both New York and Washington criticising the President’s plans.

Donald Trump at International Union of Operating Engineers International Training and Education Center in Texas, US on Wednesday April 10 2019. Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian.

In a joint statement, Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson denounced Mr Trump’s decisions.

“The President’s action today is an unprecedented assault on the right and obligation of every state to protect their waters and their communities,” the statement said.

“No amount of politicking will change the facts – states have full authority under the Clean Water Act to protect our waters and ensure the health and safety of our people.

“Washington will not allow this or any presidential administration to block us from exercising our authority lawfully and effectively.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the Trump Administration was continuing a “hostile assault to our environment”.

“President Trump’s Executive Order is a gross overreach of federal authority that undermines New York’s ability to protect our water quality and our environment,” he said.

“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.”

It’s not the first time President Trump has introduced new legislation to support the energy industry.

In 2017, soon after taking office, Mr Trump signed another two Executive Orders: for Energy Partners’ Dakota Access and TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipelines, and another regarding the construction of steel pipes.

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