Trump Signs Executive Orders To Boost Pipeline Construction

Apr 11, 2019

President Trump signed two executive orders on Wednesday aimed at making it easier for oil and gas companies to build pipelines.

In recent years, some states - like New York - have prevented pipelines from being built by claiming the oil and gas they move could threaten nearby waterways.

One of Trump’s executive orders focuses on speeding up pipeline projects by making it harder for states to stop them on environmental grounds. It asks the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review how states apply environmental rules to pipelines.

Eric Smith, Director of the Energy Institute at Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business, says that could mean more pipelines and more oil flowing to Louisiana from places like Canada.

“We have plenty of oil,” says Smith, “it's just not the heavy sour crude that our [Louisiana] refineries need.”

Crude oil is classified on a scale from “very light” to “heavy.” Smith says most of the heavy stuff comes to Louisiana by boat from Central American countries like Mexico and Ecuador, and that connecting to Canadian pipelines would make refineries’ operations much more efficient.

Still, he says that executive order is somewhat symbolic, since it is likely to face legal challenges and could be reversed by a future president.

The other executive order gives the President of the United States the final say about whether to approve pipelines that cross international borders -- like the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would cross the Canadian border. That power was previously held by the Secretary of State.

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