resident Donald Trump signed a pair of executive orders aimed at speeding up oil and gas pipeline permitting, including limiting the ability of activists and states to block key energy projects.

Trump signed the orders Wednesday at an International Union of Operating Engineers’ training center near Houston. Some labor unions have pushed back against Democrats’ anti-fossil fuel agenda, including the recently introduced Green New Deal. 

Trump ordered federal agencies to speed up permitting for pipeline projects, including asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to curtail state authority to block projects under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The administration is responding to criticisms that some states have weaponized CWA permitting to block energy projects.

Trump speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition 2019 Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas

U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition 2019 Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., April 6, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

For example, New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration has blocked a number of natural gas pipelines from running through his state, depriving the northeast of much needed energy supplies.

The supply crunch hit hard during winter when the region was forced to import gas from Russia. New York City locals fear a moratorium on new gas hook-ups will stall commercial developments. 

Across the country, Washington state, under Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, a 2020 contender, has blocked coal and oil export terminals planned along the Pacific coast. The state’s actions relied on a wide-ranging permit review that included factors that had nothing to do with water quality.

“President Trump is doing some spring cleaning on regulations used by no-growth advocates to stop infrastructure in its tracks and deny Americans the benefits our energy dominance promises,” Dan Kish, a distinguished senior fellow at the free market Institute for Energy Research, said in an email.

“President [Barack] Obama lamented the lack of shovel-ready jobs; President Trump is going straight to the operating engineers who will build our infrastructure to show how he will clean out the stables and make America stronger,” Kish said.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks before signing the Red Flag bill, also known as the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill, in New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks before signing the Red Flag bill, also known as the Extreme Risk Protection Order bill, in New York, U.S., Feb. 25, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

However, Trump’s ability to curtail pipeline obstruction is rather limited without action from Congress. 

The order also directs the Transportation Department to update rules for shipping natural gas by rail. It also asked the Labor Department whether or not climate activist shareholder resolutions violate the fiduciary duty of retirement funds.

Shareholders have approved resolutions at major companies, like ExxonMobil, to report on how global warming and climate regulations could impact future business operations. Likewise, some city and state pension systems have sought to divest themselves of fossil fuel assets over global warming concerns.

Environmentalists see shareholder resolutions and divestment as an effective way to keep fossil fuels in the ground in the absence of federal regulations.

“I applaud the Trump administration for scrutinizing those who use and abuse the ‘socially responsible’ claim,” Steve Milloy told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Milloy, a former Trump transition team member, and former coal executive Fred Palmer founded the group Burn More Coal to challenge shareholder resolutions being pushed by climate activist investors.

Indigenous leaders participate in protest march and rally in Washington

“In my view, socially responsible investing is an investor fraud,” said Milloy, who is also the publisher of

Trump’s second order will clarify presidential authority for the approval of cross border pipeline permits, like the one he issued for the Keystone XL pipeline in 2017.

Despite Trump’s approval of Keystone XL, the project has been further delayed by legal challenges. The Obama administration initially rejected Keystone XL over concerns it would tarnish the U.S.’s image as a leader in the fight against global warming.

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President Donald Trump is going to Houston on Wednesday and will announce the pipeline executive order he’s issuing. It’s more than pipelines; it’s justice!

UPDATE: The executive order and my explanation of why it’s very good may be found here!

We are two days away from an in-your-face Executive Order President Trump is issuing to deliver some justice to states such as New York where demagogic governors such as Andrew Cuomo have been gaming the water quality certification process. It’s not just about pipelines but, make no mistake, it was not for nothing that Trump has picked the International Union of Operating Engineers International Training and Education Center in Crosby, Texas to make his announcement. It’s all about the working man and his interests contrasted with those of the juvenile AOCs of the world.

Here’s the great news from OK Energy Today:

Houston is to get a visit Wednesday from President Donald Trump where he plans to announce executive orders aimed at speeding up pipeline projects and expanding oil and natural gas production.

Details of the orders have not been revealed but one senior officials has been quoted as saying the orders will streamline permitting and help energy companies to “avoid unnecessary red tape.”

“American families and businesses in states with energy restrictions will be able to access affordable and reliable domestic energy resources,” the official said.

The president is scheduled to appear at the International Union of Operating Engineers International Training and Education Center in Crosby, a union-run training facility spread over 265 acres. There he is expected to speak about how he plans to aid the United States’ booming domestic oil and gas production and further shift away from foreign imports.

There will be a fight, of course, but this is what’s called taking the fight to the opposition, the NRDC gang, the Delaware Riverkeeper and all the rest. Let them do defense!

Check out what the training center is all about, by the way:

Quietly for much of the country, coal legend Pennsylvania has become the second most vital natural gas state

At over 18 Bcf/d, Pennsylvania now yields over 20% of all U.S. gas, only behind Texas' 22 Bcf/d. In the 10 years since a shale revolution took flight in its Marcellus play, Pennsylvania's gas output has exploded 32-fold.

Over that time, Pennsylvania has been responsible for 6 Tcf of the entire nation's 11.6 Tcf of new gas supply. With so much gas being produced and transacted in the region, some have even suggested that Dominion South hub 40 miles northeast of Pittsburgh should become the new benchmark for U.S. gas prices, taking over for Henry Hub in Louisiana.

For its own part, with massive low cost local supply, Pennsylvania has been turning more to natural gas to meet energy demand.

Gas is now 35% of Pennsylvania's power generation, up from 23% in 2012. And why not? As demonstrated a few years ago, more gas has displaced coal and lowered Pennsylvania's power sector CO2 emissions by 30%. Over the past decade, gas has doubled its share of Pennsylvania's total power capacity. From 2016-2018, Pennsylvania saw some 16 new gas plants being built worth $15 billion.

And as more coal and nuclear plants get pulled offline (e.g., infamous Three Mile Island will be retired this year), and intermittent renewables remain limited, even more gas will be required. To be sure, however, Pennsylvania has become a key battleground for those looking to subsidize uneconomical nuclear plants, something that could cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars.

The state is also looking to become a shale-based manufacturing hub for plastics, with an initial ethane cracker plant from Shell beginning operations next year 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

Those other states that are turning more and more to gas, yet do not produce much themselves, should take notice exporter Pennsylvania will need to keep more at home. "Pennsylvania's Natural Gas To The Rescue." These import dependent states should be doing more to produce what they can, namely gas-based New York since the state is blessed with its own Marcellus reserves, yet all the while even blocks pipelines carrying more Pennsylvanian gas into The Empire State.

Moreover, Pennsylvania's Governor Tom Wolf's $4.5 billion proposal for a gas severance tax would not just be a problem for Pennsylvania but also for the other states that rely on its gas. Pennsylvania's legislature, however, has refused to approve the tax over the past few years because it could disrupt a booming shale gas industry.

In other words, higher taxes and/or more regulations in gas giant Pennsylvania could have a negative ripple effect across the country (and really even the world as U.S. LNG exports ramp up).

This could jeopardize the entire U.S. electric power system: already at a leading 45% of installed capacity, EIA projects that gas will add 18% more capacity across the nation in the coming decades than wind and solar combined.

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Natural gas has replaced coal in PA and is now the state's main source of power.


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Not just surging production, Pennsylvania also has rising demand.


Pennsylvania's gas production increased nearly 15% in 2018, bolstered by the rush in summer and early-fall to fill new capacity on the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline system. Also helping, "Hedging Helps Ensure Surging Appalachia Natural Gas Production."

Just five companies produce 65-70% of Pennsylvania’s natural gas. But, more capital discipline and less drilling from EQT, Cabot, and Range Resources this year could mean slower growth.
The future remains very bright. Thanks to evolving technologies and practices, numerous Marcellus gas producers can breakeven when gas prices are just $2.15 per MMBtu or even below. The mighty Marcellus holds a staggering 125 Tcf of proven reserves, with the resource being many times higher.

Even with booming production, Pennsylvania's role as a gas giant continues to be constrained by a lack of pipelines that ship gas out of the state. As predicted a few years ago, there is now some $30-35 billion in pipelines coming to Appalachia. This is why the region is at the heart of EIA's 1-2% projected annual increase for U.S. gas production for decades to come.

These critical infrastructure projects, however, often face delays and enough skilled labor is a growing concern as Baby Boomers retire.

New pipelines taking gas out of the state will help producers sell their gas to more distant, higher-priced markets. The Appalachia gas boom continues to transform the U.S. pipeline network, with flows becoming more east to west and east to south. Dominion South's discount to national prices in recent years will be a lowering differential as more pipelines come online and enhance gas-on-gas competition.

Ultimately, the industry must be careful to not let a flood of Marcellus gas swamp demand and sink prices to unsustainable levels. Unlike U.S. oil producers, the gas industry has no OPEC to coordinate supply restrictions to lift prices. Indeed, new midstream to get more distant Appalachian gas to LNG export terminals will be key

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Pennsylvania is now producing around 18-19 Bcf/d.


Credit John Taggart for The New York Times

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Residential buildings in Yonkers, one of the cities and towns in Westchester County where Con Edison, the main utility, has imposed a moratorium on new natural gas hookups.

John Taggart for The New York Times

Across the suburbs north of New York City, clusters of luxury towers are rising around commuter rail stations, designed to lure young workers seeking easy access to Manhattan. In all, 16,000 apartments and condominiums are in the works in more than a dozen towns, along with spaces for restaurants and shops.

But the boom unfolding in Westchester County is under threat — not from any not-in-my-backyard opposition or a slumping real estate market.

Instead, it is coming from something unexpected: a lack of natural gas.

Con Edison, the region’s main utility, says its existing network of pipelines cannot satisfy an increasing demand for the fuel.

As a result, the utility has taken the extreme step of imposing a moratorium on new gas hookups in a large swath of Westchester, including for residential buildings planned in Yonkers, White Plains and New Rochelle. The only other places in the country with similar restrictions are in Massachusetts, gas industry officials said.

“It’s just a question of how people are going to be able to heat their homes and cook their food with the energy that’s available right now,’’ said Michael Clendenin, a spokesman for Con Ed.

There is an ample supply of natural gas in the United States, but opposition to building or expanding interstate pipelines has caused delivery challenges in the Northeast, according to industry officials. Two counties in western Massachusetts have had a moratorium on new gas hookups since 2014.

In Westchester, Con Ed’s moratorium, which is primarily concentrated in the southern section of the county, has set off anger and panic among developers and elected leaders who say it has left dozens of projects in limbo, creating uncertainty about housing, jobs and the area’s economic future.

“I’m still traumatized by the last decade when we had a head of steam and it all fell apart due to the economy,” said Noam Bramson, the mayor of New Rochelle, where dozens of projects are under construction or planned. “There are windows of opportunity when you can accomplish something and windows can close quickly.’’

In Yonkers, a developer has offered the city $16 million to buy a municipal parking lot and turn it into a complex with housing, shopping and a hotel. But the deal has yet to close and the city’s mayor, Mike Spano, is concerned that without access to gas the developer may pull out.

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Mike Spano, the mayor of Yonkers, fears that the moratorium will endanger development that he says is creating housing and jobs and helping revitalize his city.
John Taggart for The New York Times


The developer, Michael Mitnick, declined to comment on the project’s fate, but said other options, like green heating technology, can be less reliable and more expensive.

“You do not want to get too fancy or too creative with major building systems,’’ he said.

But Con Ed’s decision has also been met with deep skepticism — many elected leaders and residents question whether the utility is creating a crisis to make it easier to win approval from the Cuomo administration for new pipelines. State regulators with the power to force Con Ed to lift the moratorium are reviewing the situation.

“This would be a good game of chicken, especially when the target is lower Westchester,” Mr. Spano said. “If you want to get the governor’s attention, this is the way to do it.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo lives in Mount Kisco, a town included in Con Edison’s moratorium, and wants the state to move away from fossil fuels toward cleaner energy, like wind. He has banned fracking, a process to extract gas from shale rock, and two years ago his administration rejected a major interstate pipeline project, saying its construction would endanger wetlands.

That rejection, Con Ed officials said, cast a chill over the gas industry and has made it difficult for the utility to entice any pipeline developers willing to build in Westchester. State officials also turned down a proposal by Con Ed to help finance a new pipeline, utility officials said.

“The market changed,’’ Mr. Clendenin said. “Investors were no longer willing to take the risk.’’

But Mr. Cuomo’s office said Con Ed was seeking to make excuses for its failure to anticipate market changes in Westchester.

“The current issues these localities are facing are a result of poor planning by the utilities,” said Dani Lever, a spokeswoman for the governor. “Con Edison never even proposed new infrastructure or alternative solutions that would have adequately met increased demand for certain products prior to announcing its moratorium.”

In response to the moratorium, the state recently announced a package of incentives, including grants, for developers and residents in Westchester seeking clean-energy systems.

Considered a cheaper and less polluting alternative to heating oil, natural gas consumption nationwide increased 30 percent between 2009 and 2016, said Lori Traweek, chief operations officer for the American Gas Association. But efforts to transport more gas to the Northeast from other parts of the country, especially from Pennsylvania and West Virginia, have been blocked over safety and environmental worries.

“Is it better or worse to have a pipeline?” Ms. Traweek said. “Without it, you are taking away consumers’ affordable choice, potentially increasing emissions and reducing reliability. That doesn’t seem like a good energy policy.”

merlin 151469079 0644e9c1 5614 496a 90d1 8f03283699c4 superJumbo

Con Ed says its existing network of pipelines cannot meet a growing demand for natural gas in a large swath of Westchester.
John Taggart for The New York Times


Con Ed says its existing network of pipelines cannot meet a growing demand for natural gas in a large swath of Westchester.CreditJohn Taggart for The New York Times

In New York, the state Public Service Commission, which oversees utilities, is investigating Con Ed’s claims about the natural gas situation in Westchester and plans to issue its findings in July. It could overturn the moratorium, require Con Ed to find an additional gas supply or allow the moratorium to stand.

“The P.S.C. is committed to ensuring reliable, safe and affordable energy for New Yorkers, and considers all proposals from utilities to meet that need on the merits,” said James Denn, a commission spokesman.

The tension in Westchester touches on a wider debate about climate change, fossil fuels, renewable energy and environmental policy.

National Grid — a utility that supplies natural gas to 1.8 million customers in Brooklyn and parts of Queens, as well as on Long Island and Staten Island — is seeking the state’s approval to build a 24-mile pipeline from New Jersey through lower New York Bay.

“We cannot continue to sign up customers for new service if we don’t have the supply to back it up,” said John Bruckner, a top executive at National Grid.

In Westchester, developers rushed to submit applications for gas hookups before the moratorium went into effect on March 15. About 900 applications were submitted and Con Ed will notify applicants in the coming weeks if their requests have been approved.

Joe Apicella, managing director of MacQuesten Development, was one of the applicants. His company plans to build a 28-story residential tower in New Rochelle that will also include a new city hall and firehouse.

“To shut the spigot off entirely without a well-thought-out plan is just irresponsible,’’ Mr. Apicella said. “It’s a monopoly. You can’t go to company B.”

Dr. Courtney M. Williams, who lives in Peekskill and is a founder of Safe Energy Rights Group, an environmental group, said the moratorium should lead to a broader discussion about climate change and greener energy policies.

“Any investment in pipeline infrastructure is locking us into a fossil fuel future,” Dr. Williams said. “These companies have invested millions in antiquated infrastructure. The writing is on the wall. It is really clear that we need to invest in renewable energy.”

Pipelines Bring Major Investment Jobs to the Appalachian Basin

More than two dozen Federal Energy Regulatory Commission-regulated pipeline projects are feeding $32.6 billion in investments across the Appalachian Basin, according to a new report from Energy In Depth. This infusion of capital will result in roughly 3,500 miles of new, repurposed or replaced pipelines across Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and generate more than 124,000 jobs.

Natural gas pipeline capacity will be significantly increased.

The Appalachian Basin is projected to produce roughly 31.6 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d) of natural gas in March, according to the Energy Information Administration. The bulk of this extensive and much-needed regional infrastructure build-out is focused on expanding take-away capacity, enabling the Marcellus and Utica shale gas produced here to be used not only within the tri-state but across the country and even globally.

EID’s new infographic shows construction of all proposed pipelines will add nearly 23 bcf/d of natural gas pipeline take-away capacity. That’s enough room to move nearly 72 percent of the natural gas produced in the region.

Natural gas liquids pipelines are under construction.

The Appalachian Basin is also quickly becoming the region to watch for increased production of natural gas liquids (NGLs), particularly when it comes to ethane – the “building block” of petrochemical feedstock and plastics manufacturing. As U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry recently explained,

“Appalachia’s abundant resources coupled with extensive downstream industrial activity may offer a competitive advantage that could enable it to displace marginal producers and help the U.S. gain global market share in the petrochemical industry.”

Ethane Production East Region 600x600

In order to move the massive amounts of NGLs currently and projected to be produced regionally to new planned cracker facilities and regional market hubs, there are at least two pipeline systems in the works. These pipelines will have the capacity to move about 445,000 barrels of NGLs per day once complete, according to EID’s new infographic.

 “Keep It In the Ground” efforts to delay pipelines prove costly.

Despite the benefits, activists are attempting to block pipeline development across the Northeast and beyond. A recent Global Energy Institute report revealed that the KIITG movement has cost the United States nearly $92 billion in GDP, $20.3 million in state and local tax revenue, and 728,079 jobs. Efforts to stymie infrastructure bringing natural gas to New England also prove extremely costly to utility customers; residents pay 29 percent more than the national average while major providers are being forced to turn away potential customers.

One such example is the Constitution Pipeline, which would bring much-needed Appalachian gas through New York.

Three years ago, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied the pipeline a water quality certification, effectively halting construction on the project and prompting the company to file a petition with FERC. While FERC previously ruled in favor of DEC, it has now agreed to re-consider its decision in light of a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling on a similar, but unrelated hydropower case. If allowed to advance, the 124-mile pipeline would carry 650 MMcf/d of Appalachian gas from Susquehanna County to New York, transporting enough natural gas to serve more than 3 million homes.

As Secretary Perry said earlier this week,

“The sad thing is that not all Americans are getting to enjoy that because of some bone-headed political decisions that are made from time to time. In this case, New York, which won’t allow those pipelines to transverse.”

These states that limit [energy infrastructure] because of their political concerns jeopardize their future of their citizens, not just economically but literally, I will suggest, jeopardizing their lives.” (emphasis added)


It’s clear that the shale revolution has been and will continue to provide a major economic driver for the Appalachian region. Industry investments will bring new jobs and economic opportunity to local communities and will help relieve energy constraints across the Northeast.

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