The Environmental & Energy Law Program is tracking the environmental regulatory rollbacks of the Trump administration. Click here for the list of rules we are following.
Why it Matters
This executive order is being used to justify rolling back many climate and environmental protections in the interest of fossil fuel development.
On March 28, 2017 President Trump signed Executive Order 13783 on “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” 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.” The EO directed federal agencies to review and possibly rescind or revise rules and “agency actions” that impede U.S. energy production.
The following agencies took action on this executive order on October 25, 2017:
The Department of Energy
The Department of Energy (DOE) released its Final Report on Regulatory Review under Executive Order 13783. The report recommended streamlining natural gas export approvals, reducing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements for energy permitting and export, reviewing “overly-burdensome” energy efficiency standards for appliances, and reviewing national laboratory energy research priorities.
The Environmental Protection Agency
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its Final EO 13783 Report. EPA identified four areas it will review, on top of the deregulatory actions it has already taken. The four areas for review are:
- New Source Review permitting, which requires new or modified power plants to install air pollution controls. EPA identified this rule as imposing costs and delays which slow the development of domestic energy.
- National Ambient Air Quality Standards, which set health-based standards for 6 pollutants and requires cities and states that do not meet these limits to take action to improve their air. EPA will review whether these limits are too strict and unnecessarily protective of human health, resulting in a backlog of work for EPA and necessitating “regulatory relief.”
- Employment Evaluations, to determine which EPA regulations “impact business development and expansion, as well as capital investment and employment patterns.”
- How better to work with industry to “reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens, improve regulatory forecasting and predictability, and improve the ability of both EPA and industry to conduct long-term regulatory planning while also improving the environment and public health,” including through its recently launched Smart Sectors program.
Deregulatory actions already taken and mentioned in the report by EPA include:
- Clean Power Plan repeal efforts.
- Non-enforcement of the Methane Emissions Standards for Oil and Natural Gas Sector.
- Cancelling the Oil and Gas Information Collection Request.
- Reconsidering and lowering the Mid-Term Evaluation for Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards.
- Delaying and reviewing the Steam Electric Effluent Limitations Guidelines.
- Proposed rescission of the Waters of the United States
The Department of Commerce
The Department of Commerce released its recommendations in response to EO 13783, also identifying several “agency actions for potential reform.” The following are regulations that add to the time it takes to license and permit offshore oil and gas and increase industry’s regulatory burden:
- The Endangered Species Act
- The Marine Mammal Protection Act
- Essential Fish Habitat under Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act
- National Marine Sanctuaries Act
- Federal Power Act Licensing
Commerce also identified seismic testing guidance for protecting marine mammals, guidance for responding to marine mammals in oil spills, and considering climate change in fisheries endangered species act decisions as rules that may “shackle” American energy instead of “promoting” it.
The Department of the Interior
The Department of the Interior (DOI) released its EO 13783 report finding that “several costly and burdensome regulations from the past threaten that balance (of economy and environment) by hampering the production or transmission of our domestic energy.” DOI targeted wildlife, environmental, and protester rules that impede mineral development and energy projects in its 42-page report. Among the deregulatory items described:
- The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will investigate how to speed up permits for energy and mineral developers working on and through public lands, including national monuments and wild and scenic rivers. For example, BLM will review the use of NEPA in energy and mineral development to reduce the regulatory burden it imposes.
- BLM will also review “protest regulations and policy” to “limit redundant protests that hinder orderly development.”
- BLM is already in the process of reviewing and delaying a rule to prevent methane emissions from energy production on public lands and rescinding a rule governing hydraulic fracturing on federal and tribal lands.
- The Bureau of Energy and Ocean Management (BOEM) will review seismic testing permitting and how to reduce marine mammal and endangered species protections during energy exploration and development.
- BOEM will also review a proposed air quality rule for offshore energy development, a rule determining how much money companies must reserve for safely decommissioning oil rigs, and how the Arctic is developed.
DOI plans to review protections of bald and golden eagles “to reduce the burden on industry,” and review the protection of migratory birds in pipeline development and operations.
Earlier this year, Congress and President Trump voided the Stream Protection Rule using the Congressional Review Act.