President Trump signed two executive orders on Wednesday that make it easier for oil and gas companies to build pipelines by decreasing states’ power. “Where it will take you 20 years to get a permit, those days are gone,” Trump said at an event in Texas. The orders make it harder for state agencies to intervene in pipeline projects, pleasing the oil and gas industry which has complained that high-profile protests have delayed production. One of the orders will limit state environmental reviews of projects, and instead will direct the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency to rewrite a section of the Clean Water Act that gives states authority over their water quality permits. “This is a disastrous idea... and threatens to undercut the ability of state leaders to determine how best to protect their rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands,” the Natural Resources Defense Council said in a statement Tuesday.
The second order gives the president sole responsibility for approving pipelines that cross international boundaries, a role previously held by the secretary of state. The order also eases restrictions on interstate transport of crude oil and natural gas, allowing it to be shipped via trains. Critics have long opposed this idea, arguing that rail transport of these substances poses significant environmental and safety concerns as trains can fall off tracks, potentially causing oil and gas spills.