New York will sue the Trump administration over an executive order issued earlier this month intended to facilitate the construction of pipelines and other projects involving oil and natural gas while reducing the regulatory authority of states to prevent them, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.
Cuomo said during a radio interview that the state will front a legal challenge against the order, which he said has the potential to allow pipelines in New York that the state would not support.
“If a pipeline cracks in our state, it’s our state that gets hurt,” Cuomo said. “He wants to use, basically, federal supremacy — he can seek and do it by executive order — to allow pipelines across our state. We disagree legally and we will sue him.”
An inquiry on the litigation sent to the White House Tuesday afternoon was not immediately returned. The state attorney general’s office, which would bring the litigation, also did not respond to a request for comment.
It’s another instance of Cuomo vowing to bring litigation from the state against the Trump administration, which has already been the subject of hundreds of legal actions from New York. The state, most recently, announced a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over a decision to allow an indefinite break from the cleanup of the Hudson River.
The lawsuit Cuomo referred to on Tuesday, which hasn’t been filed as of yet, is along the same lines. Cuomo said the order from Trump was targeted at states such as New York that have been less willing than others to approve new pipelines within the state’s borders. That’s prevented, in some cases, entire pipelines from being completed.
Trump cited decisions from New York, specifically, when he announced the executive order earlier this month. He referred to the Constitution Pipeline, a project the Cuomo administration decided to block, as an example of why the order was promulgated.
“In New York, they’re paying tremendous amounts of money more for energy to heat their homes because New York State blocked a permit to build the Constitution Pipeline,” Trump said. “New York is hurting the country because they’re not allowing us to get those pipelines through, and that’s why they’re paying so much for their heating and all of the things that energy and our energy produces. So, hopefully, they can come on board and get in line with what’s happening.”
New York has decided not to “come on board” with the order, according to Cuomo, a fervent critic of the president. He said New York will oppose any action from the Trump administration to impose energy production and distribution methods that are currently not in favor with state and local officials, like oil drilling off the coast of Long Island, for example.
“I will fight him every step of the way. President Trump, his position is clear: fossil fuels are great, oil exploration is great,” Cuomo said. “I banned fracking, he thinks fracking is great, and now he has this geographic mass in the middle of his map called the state of New York and we’re a burden for him because we don’t want pipelines crisscrossing the state.”
Cuomo had already expressed opposition to Trump’s executive order when it was signed earlier this month, but didn’t threaten legal action at the time. He called it a “gross overreach of federal authority” and argued that states should be able to assess, as they do now, the environmental and public health risks of projects before they’re approved.
The executive order has the potential to limit that authority, according to the document signed by Trump earlier this month. A provision of the order directs the EPA to review a section of the federal Clean Water Act and amend regulations that allow states to refer to that law while blocking proposed pipelines and other projects.
States would no longer be able to use the CWA to reject plans for such a project, which is what happened with the Constitution Pipeline. The Cuomo administration rejected water quality permits for the pipeline in 2016. The structure would have stretched from Pennsylvania and across parts of the Southern Tier and Central New York.
New York will be the first state to sue the Trump administration over the executive order.
The Trump administration is, meanwhile, embroiled in separate litigation over its decision to issue a new permit allowing the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. The pipeline was rejected by the Obama administration in 2015, but that decision was reversed last month.
A coalition of environmental groups is challenging the administration’s decision in federal court in Montana, where part of the pipeline would be built. The litigation is ongoing.