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Trump order aims to speed pipeline reviews, approvals

Washington — The Trump administration plans to quicken the review process for oil and natural gas pipelines in federally-designated energy corridors, according to an executive order signed by President Trump Tuesday.

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Trump announced the order at a press conference at Trump Tower Tuesday, but the text of the order was not released until early Wednesday.

Related: Find more content about Trump's administration in our news and analysis feature.

The order is aimed at quickening the pace of environmental reviews and federal permitting for pipelines and other infrastructure projects, part of an effort to remove regulatory uncertainty for projects, Trump said.

"So it's going to be quick, it's going to be a very streamlined process," Trump said. "And, by the way, if it doesn't meet environmental safeguards, we're not going to approve it. Very simple."



The order calls for making the federal environmental review and permitting process "coordinated, predictable, and transparent," according to the text, setting a goal for federal authorization decisions for major infrastructure projects of two years.

Such infrastructure projects include roads, bridges, railroads and ports, but also infrastructure for "energy production and generation, including from fossil, renewable, nuclear and hydro sources," according to the order.

The order calls on the US Interior and Agriculture departments to lead an effort to identify "energy right-of-way corridors" on federal lands that would be subject to "expedited" reviews for energy infrastructure projects.

The order follows an executive order Trump signed in January that called for a broader push to expedite environmental reviews and federal approvals of infrastructure projects.

"Often the largest hurdles are approvals from Washington," said Senator John Barrasso, Wyoming-Republican, in a statement Wednesday. "If we expedite review processes, while still making sure we are protecting the environment, then we can start building faster."

Barrasso is chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Much of the criticism of Trump's order was focused on a provision that revokes an executive order signed by President Obama in 2015 requiring recipients of federal funds to weigh risk-management standards when building in flood zones.

"This order will put people throughout the country at risk by allowing developers to ignore potential hazards while muzzling the public's ability to weigh in on potentially harmful projects near their homes," Alex Taurel, deputy legislative director with the League of Conservation Voters, said in a statement Tuesday.

"Furthermore, this executive order lets the government off the hook when it comes to constructing projects that should withstand flooding, putting lives at risk for the sake of speed over safety," Taurel added.

--Brian Scheid, brian.scheid@spglobal.com

--Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, keiron.greenhalgh@spglobal.com