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Wheeler Signs Proposal for Pipeline Projects to Bypass Clean Water Act

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Drink water fountain near a playground at the grounds of the former Naval Air Warfare Center Warminster, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, USA on Feb. 6. Bastiaan Slabbers / NurPhoto / Getty Images

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a proposal Thursday night to change Clean Water Act rules and streamline the federal permit approval process for infrastructure projects like pipelines.


The change would limit the ability of states to cite the Clean Water Act to block or delay projects from companies with incomplete permits, which has been a frequent tool used by groups in New York and other states fighting new natural gas pipelines. Signing the proposal opened a 60-day comment period, and Wheeler plans to formally announce this change at a National Association of Manufacturers event Friday.

"This is another example of the Trump administration bending the definition of cooperative federalism to mean they'll respect the rights of states that agree with it politically and will go after states…when they don't," said Christopher Gray, spokesman at NYU's School of Law's State Energy and Environmental Impact Center.

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