Trump Signs More Executive Orders to Push Pipeline Projects Through at All Costs

Here is the president signing the orders.
Here is the president signing the orders.
Photo: AP

President Donald Trump further solidified his love for oil, gas, and the pipelines that transport these dirty fuels with the signing of two executive orders Wednesday.

Advertisement

The two orders are meant to limit state powers to ensure that energy infrastructure projects—pipelines, in particular—aren’t held up over state-level approval. He’s giving states 60 days to approve or deny key certifications projects need under one of the executive orders.

“My action today will cut through destructive permitting delays and denials,” Trump said to a backdrop of hard-hat-wearing fossil fuel workers (one of whom looked absolutely smitten by his presence).

Advertisement

The president was in Crosby, Texas—yes, the same city that experienced that awful chemical fire last month—to formally sign these two executive orders, a move in line with his broader pro-fossil fuel energy policy.

This comes just about a week after Trump’s executive order to push through the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, an action he celebrated during his Texas announcement.

“Under this administration, we’ve ended the war on American energy like never before,” Trump said during the signing. “No one believed this was going to happen.”

Advertisement

The first of the new executive orders will order the Environmental Protection Agency to speed up the 401 certification process under the Clean Water Act that delegates states the power to determine if federal approval of projects meet their individual water quality standards. For an administration that touts itself on emphasizing state rights, it’s quick to strip that power when it goes against federal interests.

“This administration is so intently pro-state until it’s not,” said Mark Ryan, a former assistant regional counsel at the EPA, to Earther.

Advertisement

The second order mandates the Department of Transportation to “modernize” regulations, as Trump put it, for natural gas export terminals. What that exactly means is unclear, but it’s likely to ensure that these terminals happen regardless of what states want.

This announcement is a direct response to states like New York and Washington using this certification process to deny fossil fuel projects. In 2016, New York leaders rejected a natural gas pipeline, and Washington state officials shut down a coal terminal proposal in 2017.

Advertisement

The consequences of the new orders remain to be seen. Speeding things along, however, can only happen “at the cost of the states’ rights to certify compliance with the state water quality standards,” Ryan told Earther.

And, really, how effective can a 60-day analysis be? State regulators may well need more time if they actually want to ensure local waterways will be safe. For all we know, this might result in speedy rejections of projects. The Trump administration would certainly deserve it.

Advertisement

Yessenia Funes is climate editor at Atmos Magazine. She loves Earther forever.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

dnapl
Dense non aqueous phase liquid

The second order mandates the Department of Transportation to “modernize” regulations, as Trump put it, for natural gas export terminals. What that exactly means is unclear, but it’s likely to ensure that these terminals happen regardless of what states want.

Let me take a guess. Excuse my excess use of figures. I know people like breezy comments.

According to FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commision), these are the LNG export terminals in various project phases (planning, permit level pre design or process w/site layout, detail design, construction, startup, and operation):

Existing LNG terminals (operating): 3 total

LNG Terminals already approved by FERC and either under construction or in later engineering design phase: 11 total

LNG proposed (permit ready design) to FERC and in pre-filing (proposal level design): 18 total

What this means is that Trump wants to export the living fuck out of domestic natural gas. Most of this gas is from shale and tight rock fields.

It’s not like those construction tradespeople pictured above really gave the thermodynamics and transport phenomena of earth’s climate system a close look. Plus, those pictured are probably the BAs from Texas locals. Or they were flown down from Chicago.

Man o’ man, environmental groups like EDF and Sierra Club thought it would be “third way” to work with API to get us beyond coal during the late Bush and early Obama administrations. Nobody was too specific on how long the natural gas bridge would be. Maybe API underestimated the length of the bridge and big green didn’t have the technical muscle to check the numbers before the whole “clean burning natural gas” push started a while back. It ain’t easy being big green and counting on mega donors to write fat checks.