Environmentalists riled as Trump pushes ‘revival’ of US energy

Donald Trump
Donald Trump. / AFP / Jim WATSON

CROSBY, United States -- In the US oil heartland on Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced the signing of two executive orders to accelerate the construction of oil and gas pipelines, dismaying environmentalists.

The latest measures are in line with others his administration has taken to ease regulation of the energy sector, a major employer and source of growth in Texas, where he made the announcement to trade union operating engineers.

“Too often, badly needed energy infrastructure is being held back by special interest groups, entrenched bureaucracies, and radical activists,” the president said in Crosby, near Houston.

“I will sign two groundbreaking executive orders to continue the revival of the American energy industry and jobs,” said Trump, who then officially endorsed the measures.

“My action today will cut through destructive permitting delays and denials.”

The measures aim to limit delays in obtaining permits to build certain infrastructure including pipelines, and will give the president “sole authority to make the final decision when we get caught up in problems,” he told his supporters.

The action further seeks to curb states’ power in the process, reported The Washington Post which cited one of the two orders.

The United States produces 12.2 million barrels of crude oil per day on average, the most in the world, according to figures from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) released Wednesday.

Trump’s announcement sparked an outpouring of opposition from environmentalists and some political opponents.

“I have a better idea. Let’s invest in clean energy infrastructure that will create jobs and won’t destroy our planet,” tweeted Washington state’s Governor Jay Inslee, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

Inslee says he will make climate change the central theme of his campaign, in contrast to Trump who pulled the United States out of the 2015 Paris accord on capping global warming.

Trump’s executive orders follow his granting last month of a new permit for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to bring oil from Canada to the US.

The previous administration of Barack Obama blocked the project in 2015, citing environmental risks.