President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order with broad implications for the oil and gas industry. Among its provisions, the order requires the US Department of the Interior to reanalyze its fracking regulations.
The executive order, entitled Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, announces a shift in American environmental policy. It establishes as paramount in the new administration domestic energy production, economic growth, and American job creation. It requires that the executive branch review its regulations, policies, procedures, and the like to determine their effect on domestic energy growth. Where appropriate, it requires officials to suspend, revise, or rescind unduly burdensome restrictions.
The order calls for a review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which has been in litigation since its inception in August 2015. As well, it lifts the previous moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands. The moratorium had been in place for more than a year.
The order, as part of the bureaucracy’s review of regulations affecting oil and gas development, requires the Secretary of the Interior to revisit his Department’s final rule on hydraulic fracturing. The rule was issued in March 2015 and levies on owners and operators substantial requirements concerning well casing, storage of fluids, and disclosure of chemicals used in fracking on Federal and Indian lands.
A federal judge in Wyoming last year blocked the rule, denying the Department of the Interior’s authority to regulate fracking. The case is on appeal to the Tenth Circuit, but the order casts into doubt the prospect of any future disposition by the panel.
The Department will likely rescind the rule, but such action will take time.
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