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President Trump Signs Two Executive Orders To Increase Pipeline Production

Protester holding sign stating No Pipeline, No Consent, during a Kinder Morgan Pipeline Rally on September 9th, 2017 in Vancouver, Canada. (photo: William Chen)
Protester holding sign stating No Pipeline, No Consent, during a Kinder Morgan Pipeline Rally on September 9th, 2017 in Vancouver, Canada. (photo: William Chen)

The orders are in part an attempt to develop the northeastern Constitution pipeline, which has been stalled after New York cited the Clean Water Act to reject it.

President Trump signed two executive orders on Wednesday, seeking to speed the development of fossil fuel infrastructure across state and international borders. One of the orders gives the president the exclusive authority to “issue, deny, or amend” permits for infrastructure projects on national borders.

“The president — not the bureaucracy — will have sole authority to make the final decision when we get caught up in problems,” said President Trump.

Critics call the orders an overreach in federal authority.

“President Trump is curtailing the public’s voice in an attempt to force dirty energy projects on communities across America,” said Joshua Axelrod, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The orders are in part an attempt to develop the northeastern Constitution pipeline, which has been stalled after New York cited the Clean Water Act to reject it. One provision in the first order will seek to weaken blue states’ ability to block pipeline projects with the Clean Water Act, which requires applicants seeking infrastructure permits to first get permission from states where potential water contamination could occur.

Map of Constitution pipeline route (Photo by Constitution Pipeline)

Map of Constitution pipeline route (Photo by Constitution Pipeline)

Governor Andrew Cuomo called the order a “gross overreach of federal authority,” arguing, “states must have a role in the process for sitting energy infrastructure like pipelines.”

In an interview with DemocracyNow!, Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with Indigenous Environmental Network, described what he perceived as hypocrisy regarding state’s rights:

“You know, what we’re seeing right now with these executive orders is nothing but an act of aggression against the authority for states to protect their homelands or protect the residents of their state and the lands within the borders of those states, mainly targeting the Clean Water Act. Really, what Trump wants to do is take away the states’ abilities to enforce environmental regulations against pipeline projects or other infrastructure, fossil fuel projects, and take and give that power solely to the federal government. You know, this is—it’s kind of absurd that, you know, Trump, being a representative or the figurehead of the Republican Party, is wholeheartedly endorsing an ideology that the federal government has a final say over what happens within the borders of a state and that the state has very little recourse to address these issues.”

President Trump, who has called climate change a “Chinese hoax,” has made increasing fossil fuel production and slashing environmental regulations a centerpiece of his presidency. The president approved of the Dakota Access Pipeline, despite widespread protests from the indigenous community, in early 2017, and issued a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline last month, overriding an earlier permit rejected by a US district judge. His newest permit is also being challenged in court.

Oil executives argue the orders could help keep oil prices low while limiting exports from Venezuela and Iran. Dale Redman, CEO of Texas-based ProPetro, said, “these are things that are good for our country and for the energy business to continue to help us be energy independent.”

President Trump delivered the executive orders in Texas, a fossil fuel-rich Republican state where Democrats made historic gains in 2018. The executive orders will most likely face extensive legal challenges from state governments.


Featured Image: Protester holding sign stating No Pipeline, No Consent, during a Kinder Morgan Pipeline Rally on September 9th, 2017 in Vancouver, Canada. (photo: William Chen)

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Peter Castagno

Peter Castagno is a freelance writer with a Master’s degree in International Conflict Resolution. He has traveled throughout the Middle East and Latin America to gain firsthand insight in some of the world’s most troubled areas, and he plans on publishing his first book in 2019.

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