The decision in May by Tulsa-based Williams to shrug away from a $1+ billion pipeline project did not go unnoticed by an administration focused on strengthening the nation’s critical energy infrastructure. Williams fought its battle for nearly two years before raising the white flag. Alberta-based TC Energy’s on-again, off-again $8 billion Keystone XL extension has played out like a bad romance and, not surprisingly, is back on ice. The biggest hurdle these projects have faced—or are facing—is gaining water permits from state environmental regulators. This has left and leaves high-profile pipelines like Williams’ proposed Northeast Supply Enhancement project and the Keystone XL herding cats in a revolving door to get infrastructure off the ground and keep energy supplies flowing amid a growing populace that depends on them.

Williams

The Williams Companies, Inc., is an American energy company based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Its core business is natural gas processing and transportation, with additional petroleum and electricity generation assets.

www.williams.com

Now, the EPA has intervened in a big way with the announcement of a new rule that will curtail the rights of states and others to onerously object to permits for energy projects, with the EPA chief saying the change would “prevent states from holding our nation’s energy infrastructure projects hostage.” The new rule applies to pipelines, hydroelectric dams, industrial plants, and other projects that could potentially emit pollution into waterways. It does not absolve their operators from conducting the intensive studies and due diligence required—along with compliance—to ensure waterways are protected.

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