Trump Moves to Speed Up Oil, Gas Pipeline Construction

President Trump has signed two executive orders to speed up construction of oil and natural gas pipelines, but his actions on April 10 do not appear likely to affect two pipelines that would cross the Appalachian Trail.

The first order directs the Environmental Protection Agency to tighten rules to make it more difficult for states to halt pipelines by citing the Clean Water Act, and the second transfers authority for approving the construction of international pipelines from the secretary of state to the president.

Permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline that would cross the Appalachian Trail have been rejected by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, VA, which said that the US Forest Service bowed to private industry in approving the project. The pipeline would cross parts of the George Washington and Monongahela national forests while carrying natural gas from fracking fields in Pennsylvania and West Virginia through Virginia and into North Carolina.

The other pipeline that would affect the AT in Central Virginia, the Mountain Valley Pipeline, also has been put on hold after an unfavorable ruling by the federal court in Richmond.

The goal of transferring international pipeline approval authority to the president is to speed up projects like the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico.

That pipeline has been delayed by court challenges since the early years of the Obama administration.

The other pipelines targeted by the president—the Constitution pipeline in New York, Enbridge Line 3 in Minnesota, and Enbridge Line 5 in Michigan—have been contested by those states.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called Trump’s first order a “gross overreach of federal authority” that undermines the state’s ability to “protect our water quality and our environment,” according to NPR.

Trump offered a different view while signing the orders in Texas.

“Too often, badly needed energy infrastructure is being held back by special-interest groups, entrenched bureaucracies, and radical activists,” Trump said, according to the New York Times. “This obstruction does not just hurt families and workers… It undermines our independence and national security.”

Both executive orders are likely to face court challenges.

Feature image showing a simulation of the 500-foot corridor proposed by the Mountain Valley Pipeline in Giles County, VA, provided by Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition.

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Comments 1

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    Kathy Lovelace : Apr 14th

    Im sure fiscally a pipeline as to good ol fashioned trucking, trains and freighters….enough already I agree presidential intervention oversteps a states govern of water and resources, President, what special interest groups does that help…hmm…

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