EPA, overthrowing Trump, will restore state power to block pipelines

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration will take steps Thursday to restore the authority of states and tribes to veto gas pipelines, coal...


WASHINGTON — The Biden administration will take steps Thursday to restore the authority of states and tribes to veto gas pipelines, coal terminals and other energy projects if they pollute local rivers and streams, reversing a rule of law. Trump era that had curtailed that power.

For 50 years, the Clean Water Act has given states and tribes the ability to review federal permits for industrial facilities and block projects that could dump pollution into local waterways. Without their certification, the federal government cannot approve a project.

Michael S. Regan, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said the agency is proposing a rule that “builds on this foundation by empowering states, territories and tribes to use the authority granted by Congress to protect precious water resources while supporting much-needed infrastructure.” projects that create jobs and support our economy.

Water resources are “essential for thriving communities, vibrant ecosystems and sustainable economic growth,” Regan said in a statement.

Some states have used their authority under the Clean Water Act to stop or delay fossil fuel projects. In 2017, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington refused to certify a federal water permit for a coal export facility on the Columbia River, citing the risk of large spills as well as effects on air quality. In 2020, Andrew Cuomo, then Governor of New York, refused a permit for a pipeline who allegedly shipped natural gas to his state from Pennsylvania, due to the project’s “failure to demonstrate” that it could meet water quality standards.

In 2020, the Trump administration implemented a ruler to restrict this power of review and to limit the time during which states and tribes could grant or deny permits. Trump officials have argued that Democratic states are essentially pursuing climate policy under the guise of a law intended for a different purpose. They said they wanted to curb abuses of the law that held fossil fuel projects “hostage.”

Environmental groups and Democratic lawmakers have accused the Trump administration of accelerating major energy projects at the urging of the oil and gas industry.

“The rule had been in place since 1971, and the Trump administration decided to overturn it, essentially limiting the ability to challenge the environmental impacts of projects,” said Richard L. Revesz, professor of environmental law at the New York University.

The changes proposed by the Biden administration would essentially restore the conditions that existed before the Trump presidency.

They come as Mr Biden calls on the oil and gas industry to increase production to relieve high prices at the pump. Energy trade groups have said they fear the new regulations will block infrastructure they say is needed to meet demand.

Revesz said he doesn’t believe the Biden administration’s actions will affect prices at the pumps, as Trump administration limits will remain in place until the Biden rule is finalized, most likely. next year.

“Keeping the Trump rule in place won’t keep gas prices low, and removing the Trump rule won’t drive gas prices up,” he said.

Republicans have criticized the Biden administration’s plans for adding unnecessary bureaucracy while allowing opponents of fossil fuels to create barriers for oil and gas projects.

“It shouldn’t take longer to get permits and approvals for a pipeline than it does to build one,” Karen Harbert, president of the American Gas Association, said Wednesday. She said the companies “were concerned that the proposed rule would deviate from the intent of Congress when drafting the Clean Water Act and allow some states to delay and increase the costs of critical energy infrastructure.”

Julia Anastasio, executive director of the Association of Clean Water Administrators, which represents water permit administrators in all 50 states, said the rejection of the coal terminal in Washington state and the gas pipeline in New York does not represent not a larger trend.

Ms Anastasio said that, although these cases have become the “poster children” for supporters of the fossil fuel industry, “there was not really a problem there. The states were doing their job and did it well.

She said tweaks to the Clean Water Act’s layout might be needed, but the Trump-era changes had gone too far. The right to review projects that cross local waterways “is a clear authority given to states by Congress,” Anastasio said.

The proposed rule must go through a 60-day public comment and review period before being finalized.

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Newsrust - US Top News: EPA, overthrowing Trump, will restore state power to block pipelines
EPA, overthrowing Trump, will restore state power to block pipelines
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