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Trump seen moving quickly to implement pro-energy policies

Houston (Platts)--27 Mar 2018 1036 pm EDT/236 GMT


Federal regulations that directly impact the energy sectors have moved rapidly in a more industry-friendly direction under the Trump administration, according to a Department of the Interior official.

Unlike previous administrations, where an incoming president usually spends his first term getting the bureaucracy to move in a certain direction, "with Trump, he got the bureaucracy moving in a different direction right away," Timothy Spisak, acting assistant director energy of Interior's Bureau of Land Management, said at the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association annual meeting in Houston.

"I wouldn't characterize it as too fast," Spisak said on the sidelines of the conference. "That's kind of a relative measure. He articulated a very clear goal in his election and he's following through with it."

He stressed that BLM is working hard to fulfill its mandate of providing for multiple uses of public lands, while protecting environmental and cultural values.

"I've been in D.C. for 14 years and I've never seen a resource management plan that's less restrictive as they've been updated. That hasn't changed," he said. "Nobody's talking about shortchanging environmental protections."

He pointed to the controversial hydraulic fracturing rule, which was finalized under the Obama administration but never implemented because of ongoing litigation brought by energy groups, which considered it unnecessarily restrictive and duplicative of state laws.

Under an executive order signed by Trump to amend or rescind rules that were burdensome to energy development, BLM re-examined the hydraulic fracturing rule. "We saw that 32 states where BLM operates have some form of hydraulic fracturing rule," Spisak said.

Imposing a federal fracking rule would have created a duplication of the existing state rules, he said.

FEDERAL FRACKING RULE SEEN AS DUPLICATIVE

"The states are a little bit closer to their operations, compared to the BLM having a more generic rule applied across the federal landscape," he said. "By pulling back the hydraulic fracturing rule, there's not that conflict."

The venting and flaring rule, another BLM rule that has attracted opposition from the energy industry, is currently ensnared in litigation before the federal courts. "You have competing district courts," Spisak said.

Although the rule is currently in effect, following a decision by the 9th Circuit Court in California, "You have a Wyoming court that's weighing whether to grant the injunction from the oil and gas industry to lift the 2016 rule. We're kind of stuck in the middle right now."

-- Jim Magill, jim.magill@spglobal.com -- Edited by Gail Roberts, newsdesk@spglobal.com




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