by Michael Bastach
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said President Donald Trump is likely to make building oil and natural gas pipelines a major priority next year to meet the needs of booming U.S. energy production.
A focus on pipelines would hit two aspects of Trump’s agenda: energy dominance and rebuilding U.S. infrastructure.
“We need infrastructure, including pipelines,” Kudlow said during an event at Economic Club of Washington on Thursday, The Hill reported. “We need east to west, we need west to east.”
Kudlow said an energy executive spoke with Trump on Wednesday about the need for more pipelines to bring oil out of the Permian Basin, a major shale play straddling the Texas-New Mexico border.
The Permian is the country’s most productive drilling regions, but there aren’t enough pipelines to get all the oil and gas to market. Kudlow said companies are forced to flare products they are unable to get out.
“He’s got more than he knows what to do with. They’re burning it off, flaring,” Kudlow said, adding there were policies at the federal level that could help get more pipelines built.
“The states have some problems. But we also have some leverage at the federal government,” Kudlow said.
However, the Permian region isn’t the only area with pipeline woes. New England experienced natural gas shortages last winter during a cold spell that spiked natural gas demand.
Federal and state policies to shutter coal and oil-fired power plants have made New England more reliant on natural gas for electricity and heating, but officials say the pipeline infrastructure has not expanded enough to meet demand.
Power plant retirements and lack of pipelines “is making reliable operations more tenuous,” Gordon van Welie, president of ISO New England, warned during a presentation in February.
Natural gas supplies got so tight, the region was forced to import liquefied natural gas from Russia. New England energy prices were among the highest in the world last December as temperatures dropped and demand spiked.
Trump already took some actions to build more pipelines, including approving the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines shortly after taking office in early 2017.
The Trump administration also proposed reforms to speed up pipeline permitting as part of its $1.5 trillion infrastructure proposal. The administration proposal included changes to decades-old environmental laws to speed up permitting and thwart environmentalist litigation.
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