Trump Action Would Ease State Barriers to Pipelines

Executive order also calls for shipping LNG via rail

Pipeline
President Donald Trump is applauded prior to signing an executive order on energy and infrastructure during a campaign event at the International Union of Operating Engineers International Training and Education Center in Crosby, Texas, April 10, 2019. Photo Credit: Carlos Barria/Reuters.

U.S. President Donald Trump has issued an executive order to prevent states from using a provision in the Clean Water Act (CWA) to hinder interstate pipeline and compressor station construction.

The executive order directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to revise its CWA Section 401 regulations to require faster state reviews of pipeline permits.

Trump specifically criticized New York State, which has blocked two gas pipelines that would transit its territory to move Appalachian gas to other northeastern states.

Although the federal government regulates interstate commerce, the CWA allows states and Indian tribes to approve, amend or deny permits for the long lines that cross their wetlands and water bodies.

Industry groups have complained to the EPA that environmental activists are using the state review and permitting process to thwart energy projects that are in the national interest.

The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America said pipelines need a Section 401 approval procedure that is comprehensive and predictable.

Mark Sutton, president and CEO of GPA Midstream, said, “We previously have seen some states use the 401 permit process to essentially stall valid pipeline projects, and that isn’t right.”

The executive order also proposes allowing liquefied natural gas (LNG) to be shipped in approved rail tank cars.

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