Mother nature isn’t the only thing with enough power to hold back progress in the construction industry. For better or for worse, permitting, and government regulations continue to expand across North America, often resulting in significant delays to some of the biggest building projects. The energy industry is just one of the sectors fighting for federal approval to complete interstate pipeline systems. Many of these projects are also being met with resistance from individual state authority, and from environmental activists fighting to reduce fossil fuel consumption and to protect other natural resources. Proponents are quick to point out that projects like these create thousands of construction jobs which can help stimulate the economy. Here are some current regulations that are impacting the oil and gas construction industry.
Federal Authority vs. State Regulators
Both legal and political fights continue to escalate, as pipeline executives lobby Congress to intervene and provide federal authority over state regulators. In return, a growing number of newly-elected governors vowed to shift their states’ energy sector away from fossil fuels, with some of them even blocking the pipelines through environmental law. So far, the judges have sided with individual states claiming that the pipelines will increase greenhouse gas emissions. Although executive action would overrule the states, it’s all but certain that such an action would be answered with lawsuits from environmental groups, and delayed for years
The Keystone XL oil pipeline that was expected to resume construction during the 2019 building season is being delayed by a federal judge requesting a new environmental review of the project from the current administration. But they argued that such a review would be moot since regulators in Nebraska ordered its builder to follow a new route. The judge then accused the government of trying to escape their responsibility to evaluate the new route as stipulated under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Former President Barack Obama even declined to issue the permit required to complete the project. The permit has since been approved by President Trump and Congress. The industry must also adhere to the Endangered Species Act which requires an evaluation concerning which species or critical habitats that could be affected by building these projects. In an effort to jumpstart these interstate pipeline systems, along with future energy development, President Trump and the Republicans in Congress have begun to revise these regulations, while completing ending others. Some other policy changes that continue to impact the oil and gas industry include withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, elimination of the hydraulic fracking rule, replacing the Clean Power Plan and ending the war on coal.
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