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COVID-19 & Energy Infrastructure

State attor­neys gen­er­al are work­ing to ensure that the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is not allowed to waive crit­i­cal project reviews for ener­gy infra­struc­ture projects based on the coro­n­avirus pandemic.

Advo­ca­cy at the Fed­er­al Level

FERC Pol­i­cy

In May 2020, a coali­tion of eleven attor­neys gen­er­al led by Mary­land Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bri­an Frosh sent a let­ter to FERC Chair­man Neil Chat­ter­jee urg­ing him to declare a mora­to­ri­um on approvals of all new and pend­ing nat­ur­al gas pipelines, LNG export facil­i­ties, and relat­ed fos­sil fuel infra­struc­ture projects until the end of the COVID-19 cri­sis. In their let­ter, the coali­tion high­light­ed the need to pre­serve the due process rights of inter­est­ed stake­hold­ers, giv­en that many are deal­ing with unprece­dent­ed health and eco­nom­ic chal­lenges and may be unable to par­tic­i­pate in hear­ings and pro­ceed­ings. The attor­neys gen­er­al also not­ed that deal­ing with the effects of the pan­dem­ic is the top pri­or­i­ty of indi­vid­u­als, com­mu­ni­ties, and state and local gov­ern­ments, and urged FERC to acknowl­edge this and mod­i­fy its prac­tices accordingly.

Admin­is­tra­tive-wide Policy

In June 2020, Pres­i­dent Trump signed an Exec­u­tive Order instruct­ing fed­er­al agen­cies to rely on emer­gency author­i­ties to waive envi­ron­men­tal reviews and to expe­dite approvals for major infra­struc­ture projects such as pipelines, ener­gy projects on pub­lic lands, and high­ways. By allow­ing agen­cies to side­step envi­ron­men­tal analy­sis and ignore pub­lic input, the order dis­re­gard­ed the legal oblig­a­tions to adhere to envi­ron­men­tal laws such as the Nation­al Envi­ron­men­tal Pol­i­cy Act, the Endan­gered Species Act and the Clean Water Act when approv­ing infra­struc­ture projects. In response to the order, Mary­land Attor­ney Gen­er­al Frosh released a state­ment crit­i­ciz­ing the admin­is­tra­tion for favor­ing cor­po­rate inter­ests and jeop­ar­diz­ing the envi­ron­ment and the health of com­mu­ni­ties, par­tic­u­lar­ly com­mu­ni­ties of col­or and low-income communities.