Trump Administration Moves to Limit State Powers to Block Pipelines, Terminals

James Marshall
August 11, 2019

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule Friday aimed at streamlining approval of oil and gas pipeline projects, moving to stop what the administration said is a habit of some states to exploit a section of the Clean Water Act to block energy proposals indefinitely.

When completed, EPA's rule would establish a one-year deadline for states to deny permits on infrastructure projects.

During a visit to a refinery in Pennsylvania late last month, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said the agency was still processing them and was hoping to make decisions within the next few weeks, or at most a month.

"Our proposal is meant to help ensure that states adhere to the statutory language and intent of Clean Water Act", EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.

In an interview with the Journal on Friday, Wheeler-a former coal lobbyist-pointed to New York's yearslong battle over the Williams pipeline as a justification for the new rule, which would carry out an executive order Trump issued in April. It exposes the president's contempt for the Clean Water Act and his disdain for the right of every state to protect our waters and our communities. The administration has specifically criticized NY for its decision to delay and block an interstate gas pipeline, Williams Cos Inc's Constitution line from Pennsylvania, saying it has created bottlenecks and supply disruptions. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the project in 2014.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency move comes four months after President Donald Trump ordered the EPA to change a section of the U.S. Clean Water Act that states like NY and Washington have used to delay pipelines and terminals.

The tug of war between rivaling corn and oil industries has intensified over the past year on how the EPA administers the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a more than a decade-old federal policy that requires refineries to blend corn-based ethanol into their gasoline or buy credits from those that do.

"It seems that not a day goes by when President Trump isn't spitting into the wind to try to stop the ongoing transition to a carbon-free future", a coalition of 20 NY state senators said in a statement at the time.

"For too long, states and governors beholden to radical eco-left special interest groups have played politics in order to block natural gas infrastructure projects in their states", the official said.

The Sierra Club called the proposed rule "disastrous".

"At a time when ethanol plants in the Heartland are being mothballed and jobs are being lost, it is unfathomable and utterly reprehensible that the Trump administration would dole out more unwarranted waivers to prosperous petroleum refiners", Renewable Fuels Association President and Chief Executive Geoff Cooper said in a statement.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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