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Trump infrastructure plan would speed up pipelines, cut environmental reviews

From Reuters - February 12, 2018

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administrations infrastructure proposal released on Monday would speed up the permitting of U.S. natural gas pipelines, including by cutting Congress out of the process for allowing them to cross national parks.

The proposal fits into President Donald Trumps broader plan to boost U.S. oil and gas development by slashing red tape, something that has cheered industry but raised concerns among environmentalists and Democratic lawmakers.

At its core the proposal plans to steamroll as many projects to get to yes as fast as possible whether or not there is a robust environmental review, said Brett Hartl, government affairs director of the Center for Biological Diversity.

The $1.5 trillion infrastructure proposal would give the interior secretary the authority to approve natural gas pipelines that cross the countrys national parks, changing the requirement that Congress authorize such projects.

The plan also aims to speed up the time that a state has to issue water permits - section 401 certificates required under the federal Clean Water Act - needed for the construction of interstate natural gas pipelines.

The changes would deliver projects in a less costly and more time effective manner by creating a new, expedited structure for environmental reviews and delegating more decision-making to States and enhancing coordination between State and Federal reviews, the proposal says.

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