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President Trump’s New Executive Order Impacts the Texas Oil & Gas Indusrty

On March 28, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order entitled “Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth”, rolling back regulations governing emissions. The order is aimed at changing the Obama Administration’s climate policies and regulations.  The order comes as a fulfillment of repeated campaign promises for the overhaul of emission standards for the oil and gas industry and the Clean Power Plan. The exact wording of the executive order states that it is in the best interest of the United States to continue to perpetuate the growth of energy development “while at the same time avoiding regulatory burdens that universally encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation.” Detractors take this as a direct blow against environmental protection and climate change. However, many in the industry who saw the Clean Power Plan as putting too much power in the hands of federal bureaucrats (who are not elected and not accountable to anyone), and taking it away from state regulatory agencies, applaud the order.

Among other things, the order requires the review of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) carbon emission restrictions for power plants in the United States and the standards that new power plants must meet. Additionally, the order rescinds a memorandum by President Obama to the EPA which directed carbon pollution standards for power plants and that were aimed at cutting carbon emissions in the United States and curbing the impacts of climate change.

The order directs U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, to ensure that the EPA cooperates with these requests. The EPA responded by stating they will review the Clean Power Plan and will hold any environmental litigation in abeyance while they conduct their review of the order.

This executive order also touched on several other environmental issues including the following:

  • It rescinded the Council on Environmental Quality’s direction to consider greenhouse gas emissions in the National Environmental Policy Act reviews;
  • It directed a review of the emissions standards of greenhouse gasses in the oil and gas sector;
  • The order withdrew the support of particular documentation used to estimate the cost of carbon emissions;
  • It disbanded the Interagency Working Group of Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases.

President Trump was clear that this order was issued to help eliminate regulations in order to help these energy production industries. The President also called for a review of all government agencies that are potentially hindering the use or development of United States energy resources.

Ultimately, the goal of this order is to facilitate the increased production and consumption of United States’ energy resources. The executive order made it clear that the production, utilization, and transmission of American resources is encouraged and the intent of this regulation was to make it easier for the energy companies to conduct business in this nation.

Many states, including Texas, have state agencies that do an excellent job of regulating the environmental impacts of oil and gas production.

In Texas, for example, the Texas Railroad Commission and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality have strong environmental regulations in place and they enforce them! Contrast this with the “one-size-fits-all” mentality of federal agencies as well as the repeated attempts by federal agencies such as the EPA to base regulations on bad science or false scientific assumptions. This executive order will no doubt benefit not just the Texas oil and gas industry, but Texas residents as well.

The last time I checked, there was still no peer-reviewed science that supported the idea that human activity caused “global warming”. In fact, despite the attempts by liberals to quell contrary views, there are a number of respected scientists who have begun to question that global warming exists at all. Finally, I have to admit that the idea pushed by the EPA, that carbon dioxide is some evil greenhouse gas, instead of the substance that makes all plant life possible, is more than a little off balance. Trump’s executive order is a sign that the political landscape may begin to conform to scientific reality.