WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump is eager to jump-start energy projects such as the TransCanada Keystone XL oil pipeline, and he’s taken action to assert executive power over such infrastructure.
The president last month issued a new permit for the stalled Keystone project, which would move Alberta crude to U.S. refineries, insisting it’s an exercise of presidential authority that’s not subject to judicial review.
And Trump has now signed another order clarifying the president alone has authority to issue permits for cross-border projects such as pipelines.
A third order makes it harder for states to block pipelines and other energy projects on the basis of environmental concerns.
Taken together, the actions are a broad assertion of presidential authority that reverses more than 50 years of practice.
Pipeline opponents have already asked a federal court to strike down Trump’s new permit.
William Buzbee, a constitutional scholar and professor at Georgetown University Law Center, noted the action came after another judge ruled against Trump.
“This is somewhat dumbfounding, the idea that a president would claim he can just say, ‘Never mind, I unilaterally call a do-over,’” said Buzbee.
In November, U.S. District Judge Brian Morris ruled the Trump administration did not fully consider potential oil spills and other impacts when it approved the pipeline in 2017.