Interior Department Releases Energy Burden Report

The U.S. Department of the Interior has released a “Review of the Department of the Interior Actions that Potentially Burden Domestic Energy” report, produced
 in response to President Trump’s Executive Order 13783. The report identifies agency actions that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources, with particular attention to oil, natural gas,
coal, and nuclear energy resources. Interior oversees U.S. oil, gas, coal, hydropower, and renewable energy resources produced on federal lands and waters, which account for nearly one-fifth of the nation’s energy and generates, on average, $10 billion a year in revenue. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed Secretarial Order 3358 Oct. 25, 2017, that will establish the Executive Committee for Expedited Planning.

The report identified a number of burdens that specifically impede the production and transportation of energy resources: under the last administration, 94% of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) was put off-limits from leasing, having an adverse effect on jobs and energy dominance while drastically reducing access to future revenue. The Trump administration has started the process of developing a new five-year program to responsibly develop the OCS and generate revenue.

Also identified was the Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands Rule. Noted was the compliance costs of the existing 2015 rule on hydraulic fracturing are not justified. All 32 states with federal oil and gas leases and some tribes currently have laws or regulations that address fracturing operations. The Bureau of Land Management has published a rule-making to rescind the rule. National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews were also criticized, namely that unnecessarily lengthy NEPA reviews delay projects and add to uncertainty for industry and higher costs for taxpayers.

Other areas singled out in the study were the federal coal leasing moratorium, the venting and flaring rule, compensatory mitigation policies, systematic delays in leasing and permitting, and the Endangered Species Act. The report also detailed actions to advance American energy dominance.

“Developing our energy resources to grow our economy and protecting the environment are not mutually exclusive,” said Zinke. “However, while conducting the review outlined in the executive order, we found that several costly and burdensome regulations from the past threaten that balance by hampering the production or transmission of our domestic energy. Our public lands are meant to be managed for the benefit of the people. That means a multiple-use approach where appropriate and making sure that multiple-use includes energy development under reasonable regulations. Following President Trump’s leadership, Interior is fostering domestic energy production by streamlining permitting and revising and repealing Obama-era job-killing regulations—all while doing so in an environmentally responsible way.”