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Perry Hints Trump May Thwart States from Blocking Oil, Gas Pipelines

Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry told a House panel last week that he considers oil and natural gas pipelines to be an integral part of the nation's energy security, and hinted that the Trump administration could cite national security as a means to thwart states trying to block such pipelines from being built.

During a House Committee on Science, Space and Technology hearing last Wednesday, Perry said he would be "hard pressed" to not say that states play an important role in the development of energy infrastructure. But he questioned whether states ultimately have the right to block interstate pipelines.

Blocking pipelines has "a national security implication or an economic implication on individuals," Perry said. "That's a whole nother issue, [but] the fight there will be the states' sovereign ability to make a decision versus the national security of this country."

Although Perry did not say whether the Trump administration would ultimately issue an executive order (EO) to rein in states such as New Jersey and New York that are opposed to pipelines, Trump signed an EO calling for expedited permitting of such projects last August. Last month, the DOE was among 12 federal agencies that agreed to follow expedited permitting procedures, with timetables designed to complete the reviews within two years.

Perry used the same hearing to tell the panel that the administration may consider use of a law enacted during the Korean War, rather than Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act, to address the issues he brought up in a controversial notice of proposed rulemaking that was ultimately rejected by FERC and derided by some in the oil and gas industry as a bailout for uneconomic coal and nuclear generators.

Regulators in New York have refused to issue a water quality certificate for the Constitution Pipeline, despite approvals by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The state has also blocked National Fuel Gas Co.'s Northern Access expansion and Millennium Pipeline Co. LLC's Valley Lateral.

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