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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

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.

4 hours ago - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.

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