The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday unveiled a proposal that would curb state powers to block pipelines and other energy projects, as part of the Trump administration’s effort to boost domestic oil, gas and coal development.
The move, swiftly criticized by an organization representing progressive states, comes four months after President Donald Trump ordered the EPA to change a section of the U.S. Clean Water Act that states like New York and Washington have used in recent years to delay pipelines and terminals.
“When implemented, this proposal will streamline the process for constructing new energy infrastructure projects that are good for American families, American workers, and the American economy,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a press release announcing the move.
The EPA’s proposal is centered on changes to Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, which allows states and tribes to block energy projects on environmental grounds, it said.
David Hayes, director of the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center, part of the New York University Law School, which coordinates policy with state attorneys general, said the proposal runs counter to the Trump administration’s promises to support so-called “cooperative federalism” in which states are given broad authority to decide policy.
“The Trump administration gives lip service to ‘cooperative federalism,’ but it practices ‘fair-weather federalism,” he said. “It’s a hypocritical double standard.”