Trump executive order on domestic energy policy

Thursday, March 30, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order affecting domestic energy policy.  His March 28, 2017 Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth includes a variety of directives, generally aimed at reducing federal regulations affecting domestic energy production.  Here's a look at his Executive Order targeting Obama-administration climate regulations and other agency actions that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources.

The Executive Order includes 8 operative sections.  One provides policy statements; six call for regulatory reviews that could lead to rule changes or revocations, or directly revoke and rescind Obama-era actions.  The final section includes general provisions.

Section 1 includes five policy statements, such as that "is in the national interest to promote clean and safe development of our Nation's vast energy resources, while at the same time avoiding regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation."  It also sets a federal policy "that executive departments and agencies (agencies) immediately review existing regulations that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources and appropriately suspend, revise, or rescind those that unduly burden the development of domestic energy resources beyond the degree necessary to protect the public interest or otherwise comply with the law."

Section 2 calls for an immediate review of all agency actions that potentially burden the safe, efficient development of domestic energy resources, "with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources."  It directs agency heads to submit a memorandum to the Office of Management and Budget detailing such potentially burdensome actions, and including "specific recommendations that, to the extent permitted by law, could alleviate or eliminate aspects of agency actions that burden domestic energy production."  With respect to actions targeted with specific recommendations in a final report, agency heads are directed to "as soon as practicable, suspend, revise, or rescind, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding, those actions, as appropriate and consistent with law."

Section 3 rescinds or revokes a variety of Presidential actions and reports, including several of President Obama's executive orders regarding climate change, the President's 2013 Climate Action Plan, and the Council on Environmental Quality's 2016 final guidance for federal agencies on consideration of greenhouse gas and climate issues in performing reviews of agency actions under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Section 4 calls for the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to "immediately take all steps necessary to review" the Clean Power Plan governing electricity-sector emissions and related rules "for consistency with the policy set forth in section 1 of this order and, if appropriate, shall, as soon as practicable, suspend, revise, or rescind the guidance, or publish for notice and comment proposed rules suspending, revising, or rescinding those rules."

Section 5 disbands a working group on the social cost of greenhouse gas emissions, and restricts the ways agencies may account for the monetary value of changes in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from regulations.

Section 6 calls for the Secretary of Interior to lift moratoria on federal land coal leasing activities imposed under a 2015 order, and to commence federal coal leasing activities.

Section 7 calls for review of federal regulations affecting emissions from the oil and gas sector, including 2016 emissions standards for new, reconstructed and modified sources, and a 2015 rule governing hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands, among others.

Section 8 includes general provisions, generally similar to those found in other executive orders.

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