Apr 9, 2019 - Energy & Environment

What's inside Trump's new energy plan

President Trump plans to issue executive orders on Wednesday aimed at easing domestic natural gas transport and avoiding the kind of lengthy battles over cross-border energy projects that ensnared the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Why it matters: The 2 orders show how the White House is trying to make fuller use of executive powers to speed up permitting and approvals of projects, including natural gas pipelines facing state-level opposition. But the plans are sure to create opposition from environmentalist who fear that Trump is trying to run roughshod over ecological protections and analyses.

How it works: Senior officials said on Tuesday that one provision in the wide-ranging orders will make clear that decisions to approve or deny permits for projects that cross international borders will rest solely with the president.

  • Another key provision aims to alter how the Environmental Protection Agency carries out a Clean Water Act provision — Section 401 — that now gives states considerable power over domestic projects that could affect waterways.

“Right now there are a lot of problems with the way the Clean Water Act is being interpreted,” a senior administration official told reporters.

  • The state of New York has used its Section 401 powers to prevent construction of the long-proposed Constitution Pipeline which would bring natural gas from Pennsylvania into New York.

But, but, but: "Trump’s action is unlikely to jump-start widespread construction, since it’s up to Congress — not the president — to restrict states’ authority under the Clean Water Act," Bloomberg reports.

What's next: Trump plans to announce the orders at a Houston-area event tomorrow.

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