New EPA proposal not likely to end disputes over new gas pipeline projects, experts say


first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Even as industry welcomes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s latest proposal aimed at preventing states from blocking infrastructure projects, experts say that the policy is unlikely to give gas pipelines the boost they want.The Aug. 9 rule-making proposal — the latest volley in a battle between states and the Trump administration over lengthy delays to gas projects — would limit state’s authority under the Clean Water Act to block pipeline construction if a project does not meet state standards. However, while the policy would likely shake up federal-state dynamics on infrastructure projects and appears destined for lengthy court battles, the proposed EPA rule is unlikely to prevent states from denying pipeline developers critical water quality permits, several lawyers and energy analysts said.“There is a plausible case to be made that this decision and that this proposed rule is more of a victory for style over substance in terms of being able to effectively rebut recalcitrant state governments that are not interested in permitting new natural gas pipeline,” said Rob Rains, an energy industry analyst at Washington Analysis LLC.The rule could make it incrementally easier for developers to sue states over unfavorable decisions on Section 401 applications, but it would not cut state politics out of the review process, said Katie Bays, an energy analyst and co-founder of research and consulting firm Sandhill Strategy.“Superficially, you would say that more favorable guidance from the EPA strengthens the legal position of pipeline projects and LNG projects that have struggled to obtain 401 certificates from states…That’s the hope and that’s what the administration is attempting to do here,” Bays said. “However, because the guidance does not remove the ability of the states to reject an application for a water quality certificate, they can still do that.”Rains, too, said the scope of what the EPA can accomplish through regulation will remain limited, particularly if Congress is unwilling to change the underlying law. “Yes, the EPA can initiate this rulemaking. They can tighten up these requirements,” he said. “But there is already this prevailing dynamic where the states get a say in this. If Massachusetts or New Jersey or New York or whomever — Virginia — don’t want a project going through, then they have tools at their disposal. It’s not too complicated.”More ($): Stalled gas pipeline projects unlikely to get relief under EPA rule, experts say New EPA proposal not likely to end disputes over new gas pipeline projects, experts saylast_img read more