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Physicians for Social Responsibility: “Trump’s Executive Orders on Pipelines Endanger Public Health to Favor Polluter Profits”

Burned Home Debris, San Bruno Gas Line Explosion, 2010. Photo: Thomas Hawk / Flickr

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Contact:
Olivia Alperstein, (202) 667-4260, oalperstein@psr.org

Washington, D.C. — On April 10, President Donald Trump announced two new executive orders to make it easier for companies to build oil and gas infrastructure and projects, and more difficult for states to block them—precisely at a time when we know we must rapidly reduce our extraction and use of fossil fuels to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Jeff Carter, Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility, issued the following statement in response:

“President Trump’s new executive orders on oil and gas pipelines endanger public health and safety in favor of corporate profits. Under these new orders, the United States is doubling down on a climate-killing fossil fuel while giving the fossil fuel industry and those who profit from it even more power over the executive branch. We should not bypass public input and states’ authority to determine whether to approve oil and gas projects. This order undermines the democratic process while putting ordinary people’s health and safety at risk.

“These misguided executive orders undercut the authority of the states to protect their water sources from rampant pipeline construction. They put communities at risk of catastrophic explosions by proposing to transport liquified gas in rail trains. And they endanger everyone by facilitating reliance on fracked gas, which is a terribly potent greenhouse gas.

“As medical and health professionals, Physicians for Social Responsibility joins other leading health and environmental organizations in objecting vehemently to these executive orders which ride roughshod over public health and community safety.”

One of the executive orders calls for a review of a section of the Clean Water Act that requires companies whose projects might pollute water sources to secure certification from the states where potential contamination could occur. The order suggests that resulting federal guidance and regulations—which give states a direct role in building projects—are “outdated” and the source of “confusion and uncertainty” that slow down infrastructure projects. The order also seeks to make it easier to transport natural gas when a pipeline can’t be used, through an update to a Department of Transportation safety regulation on facilities that store natural gas in its liquid state. The change would allow transport of the liquefied natural gas in approved railroad tank cars. Trump’s order also instructs the Secretary of Labor to investigate whether there are “discernible trends” in how certain managers of ERISA-protected investment-based retirement funds invest in the energy sector.

The second order gives the president the exclusive responsibility to “issue, deny, or amend” permits for infrastructure projects that cross international boundaries of the United States. “The president—not the bureaucracy—will have sole authority to make the final decision when we get caught up in problems,” Trump claimed. This is a clear overstep of federal authority that conflicts with states’ rights under the U.S. Constitution, and it will hamper a state’s ability to protect its communities’ health, water quality and environment

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About Physicians for Social Responsibility

PSR is a nonprofit organization representing medical and health professionals and concerned citizens, with approximately 40,000 members and supporters and with chapters in major cities and medical schools throughout the United States. PSR has been working for more than 55 years to create a healthy, just and peaceful world for both present and future generations. Learn more at www.psr.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.