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International Operating Engineer - Spring 2019

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  • Iuoe
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  • Callahan
The quarterly magazine of the International Union of Operating Engineers

Politics & Legislation

Politics & Legislation Addressing the U.S. Pipeline Permitting Crisis PIPELINE PROJECTS ACROSS the country are being unfairly targeted by “not in my backyard” community activists and environmental groups laser focused on delaying and ultimately terminating these projects. Pipelines are the safest mode of transport for oil and gas resources and their construction creates thousands of good paying jobs for Operating Engineers. Federal and state regulators scrutinize pipeline projects and the rigorous approval process often takes years to complete. However, even after years of study and federal approvals, states have exploited Section 401 of the Clean Water Act to deny permits and halt construction on many important projects. Some examples where projects have been halted and people put out of work include: • The Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) is a 600-mile natural gas pipeline, which originates in West Virginia, travels through Virginia and then continues south into eastern North Carolina. The project will generate 17,240 new construction jobs, 2,200 new jobs in manufacturing and other new industries, and million a year in new local tax revenue. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) first authorized building ACP in October 2017. Since then, lawsuits filed in Virginia challenging the project from crossing the Appalachian Trail continue to block its construction. • The Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) has also been held up by lawsuits challenging the crossing of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. The MVP is a natural gas pipeline that spans approximately 303 miles from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia. The total projected construction cost of .6 billion will create more than 4,400 jobs for the Virginia economy, and another estimated 4,500 jobs in West Virginia. • In New York, FERC granted approval in 2014 for the Constitution Pipeline. Once in service, the 125- mile pipeline would transport enough natural gas to serve about 3 million homes throughout New York— including New York City, Long Island, Westchester, the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys, the North Country and Southern Tier. In April 2016, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) denied Constitution Pipeline’s Section 401 Water Quality Certification, effectively halting construction. • The Northern Access Pipeline is a 5 million project that will transport regionally produced natural gas to Western New York, the Midwest and Canada. The Northern Access Project will construct 97 miles of pipeline, beginning in McKean County, PA, and ending in Erie County, NY. In February 2017, FERC approved the project, but again the NYSDEC denied the Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification and other state permits blocking the project. • In April 2015, the Millennium Pipeline Company began the process of seeking authorization to construct 7.8 miles of a natural gas pipeline in Orange County, New York. In July 2018, FERC approved the project. However, the NYSDEC sued FERC seeking a rehearing over the Clean Water Act Section 401. When FERC denied the request, the NYSDEC appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York, which denied the petition. For years, the IUOE has been working with Members of Congress to address this abuse of the 401 Water Quality Certification in federal law. The IUOE has also sought to change the guidance and regulations that guide state agencies in their reviews of these permits. In April, the Trump Administration responded to the IUOE’s request for administrative changes in an Executive Order signed by the President at the International Training & Education Center (ITEC) in Crosby, Texas. The executive order triggers a process, guided by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to update guidance to the states on how they review pipeline projects under the Clean Water Act. In his remarks, the President singled out the New York pipeline projects and the need to President Signs Executive Orders on Visit to ITEC AS THE PRESIDENTIAL motorcade wound its way through the streets of Crosby, the town was buzzing as it welcomed President Donald Trump for an April afternoon visit. Residents lined the streets and local schools dismissed students early so they too could wave and cheer as he passed by. After entering the front gates of the International Training & Education Center, General President Callahan reform the approval process. The President’s other executive order signed during his ITEC visit changes the Presidential Permit process for approvals across international borders. This will clarify that approvals going forward are a decision of the President of the United States and will no longer rely on vetting through the State Department and recommendation by the Secretary of State. lead a brief tour where President Trump took a few minutes to meet trainees and instructors participating in the union’s Pipeline Training Program. Inside the spacious mechanic’s shop, Trump delivered brief remarks to a crowd of about 250 Operating Engineers, local dignitaries and the national media. He announced a pair of executive orders meant to expedite oil and gas pipeline projects around the country. “Nobody in the world can do what you folks do, and we’re going to make it easier for you,” Trump said. He added, “My action today will cut through destructive permitting delays and denials.” The executive orders aim to boost energy infrastructure and remove specific barriers blocking existing plans for cross-country crude oil and natural gas transportation and interstate pipeline construction. General President Callahan stated that, “These orders will provide stability to a pipeline industry that has invested billions in private infrastructure over the years, only to see the goal posts moved arbitrarily based solely on politics.” He continued by declaring, “The Operating Engineers have always championed sound bipartisan policies over divisive politics. We applaud the President’s actions today and commit to providing the skilled workers needed to fill the jobs that will result from them.” During his speech, Trump repeated themes he’s touched on before, including a domestic energy “revival,” infrastructure and economic growth. He also claimed credit for the expansion of U.S. oil and gas production, saying that deregulation and streamlined permitting have spurred investment and created jobs. President Trump also praised the work of Operating Engineers everywhere, saying, “You are the men and women who get up every day and make this country run and, frankly, make this country great.” [above] President Trump delivers remarks before signing two executive orders addressing pipeline construction. [photo] Jay C. Lederer, IUOE 14 INTERNATIONAL OPERATING ENGINEER SPRING 2019 15

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