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Trump administration officials push to quicken pipeline permitting

Houston — US Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Monday the Trump administration is focused on quickening the pace of oil and natural gas pipeline permitting as it works towards a mammoth reorganization of the federal government.

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"The government's not going to be in your way," Perry said during a meeting of the National Petroleum Council.

Zinke said federal rules and regulations, particularly the Endangered Species Act, have been "abused" and the government's permitting process has become "arbitrary," arguing that companies should be given a clear timeframe for approval.

"Within a year you should know if that project is worth continued investment or not," he said.

At the meeting, Perry formally requested a study by the council on oil and gas transportation infrastructure. He also requested a study on carbon capture utilization and storage.

Zinke said a massive reorganization of the Department of the Interior is expected to take place in 2019, fixing what he called a "structural" issue in federal government permitting efforts.

"It's going to be huge," Zinke said.

He said multiple agencies within Interior have varying boundaries, which he said he now wants based on watershed boundaries. In addition, he said certain agencies, such as the Bureau of Land Management, would be relocated in order to "push some of the power out of Washington, DC."

Perry said certain agencies such as the US Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration may need to be moved into other departments.

"These are legitimate conversations to have," Perry said.

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

--Brian Scheid,

--Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh,