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.