President Donald Trump signed two executive orders on Wednesday to push back against lawsuits and other efforts in certain states that are restraining his administration’s efforts to build energy infrastructure, including streamlining the permitting process for domestic and border-crossing oil and gas pipelines.
The orders provide guidance for several federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Energy, and the Department of Transportation, to reevaluate the portion of the Clean Water Act that gives states authority over infrastructure projects that could affect water quality or pose other perceived environmental threats.
The infrastructure order directs that the “Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, and the Secretary of Commerce approve rights-of-way for energy infrastructure through lands owned by or within the jurisdiction or control of the United States.”
Trump signed the orders in Crosby, Texas, while visiting the International Union of Operating Engineers International Training and Education Center, a union-run company.
“Under this administration, we have ended the war on American energy like never before,” Trump said ahead of signing the executive orders. “Nobody believed that this was going to happen.”
“And we put thousands and thousands of patriotic union members like you to work building our energy future,” Trump said. “Since the election, we have created more than 5.5 million new jobs, and more than 60,000 brand new oil and gas pipeline construction jobs.”
The two orders will affect the construction of oil and gas pipelines, including the one that would help get the Keystone XL pipeline project completed by giving Trump authority to approve an energy infrastructure project that crosses an international border, in this case, the border between Canada and the United States.
One order also would allow natural gas to be transported by rail and tanker truck.
While Democrats and environmentalists are trashing Trump, claiming he is assaulting states’ rights and the environment, those who work in the industry and officials who want to protect existing jobs and create new jobs in their states are praising the president’s move.
“Today President Trump signed 2 executive orders prioritizing energy infrastructure & streamlining the permitting process for domestic and cross-border projects. I appreciate @POTUS’s strong commitment to the improvement and modernization of our nation’s energy infrastructure,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) tweeted.
Today President Trump signed 2 executive orders prioritizing energy infrastructure & streamlining the permitting process for domestic and cross-border projects. I appreciate @POTUS’s strong commitment to the improvement and modernization of our nation’s energy infrastructure.
— Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) April 11, 2019
“Today, President Donald Trump will sign executive orders to make it more difficult for state governments to block permits for pipelines and other energy-related structures under the Clean Water Act,” the free market think tank the Heartland Institute said in a statement.
“The Trump administration says this is necessary because states controlled by Democrats, such as New York, have abused this power to prevent infrastructure projects, including natural gas pipelines and coal export terminals.”
“For years, far-left politicians have abused their authority and deprived America of much-needed energy infrastructure,” a statement from the Institute’s climate experts said. “This executive order by President Donald Trump is just what is needed to create thousands more high-paying jobs in the energy industry, protect U.S. national security, and enhance the reliability and affordability of America’s energy supply.”
“Pipelines are the safest, most environmentally sound way to transport natural gas and oil to American consumers, and API [American Petroleum Institute] supports a robust permitting process for moving pipeline and other critical infrastructure projects forward,” API President and CEO Mike Sommers said in a statement. “The current process has too often resulted in protracted reviews, stalled decision-making, and canceled projects that increase costs for consumers.”
“Today’s executive orders will strengthen the Clean Water Act by requiring federal agencies to review and make timely permitting decisions in compliance with the law,” Sommers said. “We applaud the administration for their commitment to building America’s pipeline infrastructure, enabling the safe delivery of energy and creating the jobs that working families and businesses rely on each and every day.”
The infrastructure order says in part:
The United States is blessed with plentiful energy resources, including abundant supplies of coal, oil, and natural gas. Producers in America have demonstrated a remarkable ability to harness innovation and to cost-effectively unlock new energy supplies, making our country a dominant energy force. In fact, last year the United States surpassed production records set nearly 5 decades ago and is in all likelihood now the largest producer of crude oil in the world. We are also the world’s leading producer of natural gas, and we became a net exporter in 2017 for the first time since 1957. The United States will continue to be the undisputed global leader in crude oil and natural gas production for the foreseeable future.
These robust energy supplies present the United States with tremendous economic opportunities. To fully realize this economic potential, however, the United States needs infrastructure capable of safely and efficiently transporting these plentiful resources to end users. Without it, energy costs will rise and the national energy market will be stifled; job growth will be hampered; and the manufacturing and geopolitical advantages of the United States will erode. To enable the timely construction of the infrastructure needed to move our energy resources through domestic and international commerce, the Federal Government must promote efficient permitting processes and reduce regulatory uncertainties that currently make energy infrastructure projects expensive and that discourage new investment. Enhancing our Nation’s energy infrastructure, including facilities for the transmission, distribution, storage, and processing of energy resources, will ensure that our Nation’s vast reserves of these resources can reach vital markets.
Doing so will also help families and businesses in States with energy constraints to access affordable and reliable domestic energy resources. By promoting the development of new energy infrastructure, the United States will make energy more affordable, while safeguarding the environment and advancing our Nation’s economic and geopolitical advantages.
“Thank you to the extraordinary devotion of all of you to our country,” Trump said to the workers in Texas. “Together, we are making America stronger and prouder and greater than ever before.”
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