Thursday, April 11, 2019

Trump executive orders increase presidential power, target states' power to stop oil and gas pipeline projects

President Trump signed two executive orders Wednesday that aim to make it easier for oil and gas companies to build pipelines and harder for states to stop them.

The first order directs the Environmental Protection Agency to review a section of the Clean Water Act that states have used to delay projects on environmental grounds, and "requires the Transportation Department to change its rules to allow the shipment of liquefied natural gas by rail and tanker truck, Toluse Olorunnipa and Steven Mufson report for The Washington Post. "And it seeks to limit shareholder ballot initiatives designed to alter companies’ policies on environmental and social issues. Trump’s order requires the Labor Department to examine whether retirement funds that pursue those investment strategies are meeting their responsibility to maximize returns."

The second order asserts that the president is solely responsible for approving or denying pipelines or other infrastructure that cross international boundaries; until now, the secretary of state had that authority, Olorunnipa and Mufson report.

"Critics said the president’s orders on pipelines would trample on authority delegated to the states under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act and other congressional legislation," Olorunnipa and Mufson report. "That authority has been upheld twice by the Supreme Court. Trump’s move would benefit, among others, Energy Transfer, whose chief executive, Kelcy Warren, was a major contributor to Trump’s campaign." Energy Transfer has the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.

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