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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.

Go deeper

"No-code" miracle for startups

Expand chart
Data: Interactive Advertising Bureau; Table: Axios Visuals

The U.S. has reached a tipping point in its shift from the industrial economy — one that relied on the buildout of hardware — to an information economy that relies on the transfer, storage and implementation of data, according to a new report.

Why it matters: This shift towards a data and information-based economy has allowed more businesses to establish themselves and scale quickly and at a very low cost. As such, the number of jobs created by the commercial internet has more than tripled since 2012.

Amazon's small business shield

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Amazon is touting the success of small sellers on its platform through the pandemic — and warning that antitrust legislation could jeopardize that success and blow up its open-marketplace model.

Why it matters: As online shopping became a lifeline for both businesses and consumers during the pandemic, Amazon reaped big benefits, but also saw its regulatory risk grow.

The new cold war panic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The world has seen a power struggle between nuclear powers before, and has seen those countries inch closer to military conflict. But it's never before seen a cold war between two countries as interconnected — with each other and with the rest of the globe — as the U.S. and China.

Why it matters: Escalating antagonism between the world's two superpowers is likely to hinder global cooperation to fight climate change, divert resources to costly arms and tech races, complicate diplomacy for U.S. allies, and victimize Chinese and American citizens living in each other's countries.

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