Industry leaders praise Trump executive orders

President Donald Trump (The Associated Press/Susan Walsh)

Louisiana industry leaders are praising executive orders signed by the Trump administration last week, which the president says will speed up construction of pipelines and other projects for the production and transport of oil and gas.

Environmental groups, however, are condemning the move as further eroding necessary oversight over the industry.

The Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association says the orders will help relieve a backlog of pipeline projects, which will provide more “clean and affordable fuels” and create more jobs. LMOGA says pipelines are the safest, most environmentally friendly way to transport oil and gas.

“Unfortunately, bureaucratic barriers at the federal level have caused regulatory uncertainty, preventing the construction of essential infrastructure,” says LMOGA President and General Counsel Tyler Gray in a prepared statement. “We applaud the administration for their commitment to building America’s pipelines, enabling safe, efficient delivery of energy and creating the jobs that Louisiana’s families and businesses rely on every day.”

Louisiana has long been a hub of critical oil and gas infrastructure, Gray notes, and Trump’s executive actions will ease the permitting process.

One of the president’s orders directs the Environmental Protection Agency to review guidance for Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, which governs how state agencies review applications for water quality permits, and tighten rules to “make it more difficult for states to scuttle pipelines by invoking provisions of the Clean Water Act,” The New York Times reports. The other order would transfer authority for approving construction of pipelines from the secretary of state to the president, doing away with a lengthy review process.

Environmental groups like the Louisiana Bucket Brigade say the oil and gas industry needs more oversight, not less, which is what the new orders will do.

“In Louisiana, we already have over 100,000 miles of pipeline,” says Anne Rolfes, director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “That’s enough.”

The Louisiana Bucket Brigade has long led the fight against the Bayou Bridge Pipeline project stretching across south Louisiana, which has faced legal challenges for trespassing on landowner’s property, Rolfes says.

“The oil and gas industry doesn’t need any more government assistance to destroy our state,” she says. “They’re abusing the power they already have.”