Industry groups commend Trump for executive orders to facilitate energy infrastructure

Published on April 11, 2019 by Dave Kovaleski

Energy industry groups commended President Donald Trump for his decision to sign two executive orders that will facilitate the development of energy infrastructure in the United States.

One executive order is related to issuing presidential permits for certain cross-border infrastructure projects. It says that any decision to issue or deny one of these permits shall be made solely by the president. The Secretary of State will receive permit applications and advise the president on whether a project would serve U.S. foreign policy interests.

The second will direct the Environmental Protection Agency to update the guidance regarding certification under section 401 of the Clean Water Act. The updated guidance will reflect liquefied natural gas development. It also addresses regulatory and permitting barriers to financing new energy infrastructure and prioritizes the safe operation of existing infrastructure on federal lands.

“My first order will speed up the process for approving vital infrastructure on our nation’s borders, such as oil pipelines, roads, and railways. It will now take no more than 60 days. That’s a vast improvement. And the President, not the bureaucracy, will have sole authority to make the final decision when we get caught up in problems,” Trump said at a press conference this week. “My second order will modernize regulations for LNG export terminals and encourage new infrastructure financing.  It will improve access for workers and operators to maintain electrical lines.”

Per the executive orders, the U.S. Department of Energy will submit a report to the president on the impacts of current limitations on the export of coal, oil, natural gas, and other domestic energy resources through the west coast; promote economic growth of the Appalachian region; and the economic impacts caused by the inability to transport sufficient quantities of natural gas and other domestic energy resources to the New England States.

“Today, President Trump took sweeping action to ensure the United States reaches its full energy potential and has the ability to deliver our historic energy supply both around the nation and the world,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry said. “These Executive Orders implement a comprehensive whole-of-government approach to streamline the development of necessary energy infrastructure projects and reduce existing barriers to achieving that goal.”

Both the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), which represents U.S. investor-owned electric companies, and the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), which represents independent oil and natural gas producers, issued statements in support of the president’s actions. 

“EEI and its member companies thank President Trump for his commitment to achieving meaningful progress with our nation’s energy priorities. These executive orders are another example of the President’s ongoing effort to ensure that his administration is efficiently managing the siting and permitting processes across all of the federal agencies,” EEI President Tom Kuhn said. “Across the country, EEI’s member companies are investing more than $100 billion annually in the smarter energy infrastructure needed to deliver the clean energy future that our customers want and expect. These investments directly and indirectly support good paying jobs in every state.”

Kuhn said energy infrastructure siting and permitting processes for electric transmission lines and pipelines often are burdensome, restrictive, and duplicative and create costly delays for companies and their customers.

“We appreciate the focus on developing a master agreement for energy infrastructure rights-of-way renewals and reauthorizations as this will help address some of these challenges,” Kuhn said. “We also are pleased that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is directed to update its interim guidance and regulations on Section 401 of the Clean Water Act in order to clarify the scope and timeline for reviews.”

IPAA Executive Vice President Lee Fuller added that the guidance over permitting under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act is overdue for updating.

“IPAA is encouraged that, with the EO, the updated guidance will reinstate the cooperative federalism that allows for the distinct roles of federal and state governments in certifying federally-permitted or licensed activities. Sec. 401 governs vital stream crossing permits for interstate natural gas pipelines. IPAA believes that the updated guidance will prevent any future misuse by certain states in their reviews and unwarranted denials of Sec. 401 permits,” Fuller said.