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Trump Eyes Limit to States' Power to Block Pipelines

The Trump administration is considering taking steps to limit the ability of states to block interstate gas pipelines and other energy projects, according to three people familiar with the deliberations.

By Ari Natter and Jennifer A. Dlouhy

The Trump administration is considering taking steps to limit the ability of states to block interstate gas pipelines and other energy projects, according to three people familiar with the deliberations.

The effort, possibly done through an executive order, is aimed chiefly at states in the Northeast U.S., where opposition to pipeline projects has helped prevent abundant shale gas in Pennsylvania and Ohio from reaching consumers in New York and other cities.

New York used a Clean Water Act provision to effectively block the construction of a natural gas pipeline being developed by Williams Partners LP to carry Marcellus shale gas 124 miles (200 km) to New England. The project got the green light from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission but ran into obstacles in New York, where regulators denied a water quality permit.

While mostly targeted toward boosting limited pipeline capacity in the Northeast, the initiative could help drive permitting and construction of other energy projects, including coal export terminals. For instance, Lighthouse Resources’ proposed coal export terminal in Longview, Washington, was ensnared when the state’s Department of Ecology denied a critical Clean Water Act permit, citing concerns about air quality and increased railroad traffic to serve the site.

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