President Donald Trump signed Executive memoranda supporting the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines on his fourth day in office, but the policy landscape for energy transportation remains complex. When it comes to federal rights of way and cross-state infrastructure, Republican policymakers face tensions between ideological supporters of free trade in goods and services and doctrinal backers of states’ rights. Likewise, although we expect GOP oversight to emphasize federal policies that enable (rather than limit) energy transportation, sophisticated environmental opposition could curtail Trump appointees’ ability to accelerate permitting reviews. Indeed, environmental activists seeking to keep fossil energy “in the ground” are continuing their efforts to disrupt midstream projects that connect resources to markets with unrelenting - and increasingly state-focused – scrutiny of pipelines, ports, rails and shipping. Not to be overlooked, still-low interest rates and growing public concern regarding the structural integrity and safety of transportation infrastructure is forcing the midstream to operate within narrow financial and operational margins.
Our coverage combines ongoing assessments of rates of return with deep dives into critical issues, such as cross-border pipelines and the federal permitting processes. In addition, our monthly Regulated Energy Playbook for investors outlines key themes, examines recent legislative, regulatory and judicial developments and presents forward-looking assessments of coming events.
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