President Donald Trump signed two executive orders on April 10 designed to accelerate oil and gas pipeline projects in the United States.
The executive orders are aimed at addressing regional and local energy supply constraints and improving the process for issuing presidential permits for cross-border infrastructure projects.
In remarks announcing the orders at the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) International Training and Education Center in Crosby, Texas, Trump singled out the New York state government’s blocking pipeline development in recent years as a reason for his actions.
“We need help with New York,” the president said. “New York is hurting the country because they’re not allowing us to get those pipelines through, and that’s why they’re paying so much for their heating and all of the things that energy and our energy produces.”
Trump added that New York’s obstruction “undermines our independence and national security.”
“My action today will cut through destructive permitting delays and denials,” he said. “You know about that? You know about delays, where it takes you 20 years to get a permit? Those days are gone. Now, you may not get it at all, but it’s going to take — going to be quick if you don’t. It’ll be quickly missed. You know they say, ‘Miss it quick.’ Do you ever hear that? ‘Miss it quick.’ But that’s not going to happen too often.”
Trump touted the U.S. energy industry as the “No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world, anywhere on the planet,” and side his executive orders would “continue the revival of the American energy industry and jobs.”
The first executive order will address regional and local energy supply constraints and promote an efficient energy market. It calls for the Environmental Protection Agency to review and update the guidance regarding certification under section 401 of the Clean Water Act, and for the Department of Transportation to update its regulations to reflect the modern Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) development ongoing in the United States. The executive order also addresses regulatory and permitting barriers to financing new energy infrastructure and prioritizes the safe operation of existing infrastructure on Federal lands.
The second executive order is aimed at improving the process for issuing presidential permits for certain cross-border infrastructure projects. It clarifies that any decision to issue or deny a permit shall be made solely by the president. Additionally, the Secretary of State will continue to receive permit applications and provide advice to the president on whether a project would serve United States foreign policy interests.
This move follows Trump’s decision last month to issue a new presidential permit for the long-stalled Keystone XL pipeline on March 29.
Energy trade associations have applauded the president’s actions.
Don Santa, president and CEO of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), said that streamlining the permitting process to “ensure it is safe, comprehensive and predictable is a top priority,” along with EPA clarifying Clean Water Act section 401 water quality certification requirements.
“Ensuring that our abundant domestic supply of natural gas can safely reach end users is critical if we are to fully realize the benefits of this clean-burning, job-creating resource and natural gas infrastructure is the foundation of that vision,” Santa said. “Currently, the process for reviewing and approving new or expanded interstate natural gas pipelines is robust and transparent, two things that we continue to believe are essential, but procedural inefficiencies can delay a process that already spans several years.”
Association of Oil Pipe Lines (AOPL) president and CEO Andy Black applauded Trump’s two new Executive Orders. He said, “The president knows pipelines are good for the American economy, create good-paying jobs and help consumers.”
American Petroleum Institute (API) president and CEO Mike Sommers supported the president’s actions, adding that the orders would strengthen the Clean Water Act.
“Pipelines are the safest, most environmentally sound way to transport natural gas and oil to American consumers, and API supports a robust permitting process for moving pipeline and other critical infrastructure projects forward,” Sommers said. “The current process has too often resulted in protracted reviews, stalled decision-making, and cancelled 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. 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.”
Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) executive vice president Lee Fuller highlighted the president’s call for the EPA to update the interim 2010 guidance over permitting under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act (CWA).
“This guidance, overdue for updating, has allowed for implementation of the CWA in a manner inconsistent with the statute and to inhibit projects that are clearly in interstate commerce,” Fuller said. “IPAA is encouraged that, with the EO, the updated guidance will reinstate the cooperative federalism that allows for the distinct roles of federal and state governments in certifying federally-permitted or licensed activities. Sec. 401 governs vital stream crossing permits for interstate natural gas pipelines. IPAA believes that the updated guidance will prevent any future misuse by certain states in their reviews and unwarranted denials of Sec. 401 permits.”