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Trump to sign offshore orders as 100th day in office, shutdown near

Washington (Platts)--25 Apr 2017 248 am EDT/648 GMT


Ahead of his 100th day in the White House on Saturday, President Trump is expected this week to unveil details of major policy initiatives, including executive orders aimed at expanding oil and natural gas drilling in federal waters and an outline of his tax reform goals.

The week will also be complicated by ongoing negotiations with Congress to keep the federal government from shutting down on Friday, as occurred in 2013.

These negotiations appear to be centered on funding for Trump's border wall. While the border wall is a thorny issue for many Republicans and a nonstarter for Democrats, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said the administration expects Trump's "priorities" to be included in the spending bill Congress needs to pass by midnight Friday to avoid shutdown.

"So we expect a massive increase in military spending," Priebus said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." "We expect money for border security in this bill. ... And it ought to be, because the president won overwhelmingly and everyone understands that building the border wall ... was part of it."

On Friday, as those spending negotiations may still be ongoing, Trump is expected to sign "several" executive orders on energy, the White House said Sunday.

"This builds on previous executive actions that have cleared the way for job-creating pipelines, innovations in energy production, and reduced unnecessary burden on energy producers," the White House said in a statement.

The orders will include calls to redo the Obama administration's schedule for offshore lease sales and attempt to reverse Obama's prohibitions on drilling in Arctic and Atlantic waters.

One order will call for the administration to redo the 2017-2022 federal offshore leasing plan, which was finalized by the Obama administration in November and currently includes 10 sales in the Gulf of Mexico and one in Alaska's Cook Inlet over those five years, but does not include sales in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, which were removed from the plan before it was finalized. A proposed Atlantic lease sale had been removed from the plan in March 2016.

The new five-year offshore leasing plan could take years to complete and it remains unclear if there is industry interest in developing offshore acreage in either the Arctic or Atlantic.

Another order Trump will sign Friday is expected to direct the Interior Department to start the process of reversing a December 20 decision by Obama to permanently block new oil and gas development in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, covering about 115 million acres of Arctic waters, and about 3.8 million acres off the US East Coast, from Massachusetts to Maryland.

Obama blocked Arctic and Atlantic drilling through authority under Section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, a 63-year-old law that allows the president to "withdraw from disposition" any unleased lands in federal waters.

It remains unclear, legally, if Trump can reverse those Arctic and Atlantic drilling bans, and any Trump order is expected to be challenged in court by environmental groups.

TAX REFORM

Trump said that he would have a "big announcement" Wednesday regarding tax reform, and the White House said Sunday that Trump will be "outlining principles" for tax reform that day.

Trump offered few details on that announcement in an interview with the Associated Press on Sunday.

"Only in terms that it will be a massive tax cut," he said. "It will be bigger, I believe, than any tax cut ever. Maybe the biggest tax cut we've ever had."

In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said Trump will likely be outlining the administration's "principles" and "ideas" on tax reform.

It is unclear if the outline will include the controversial border adjustment tax, a proposal Trump has both praised and said he was not committed to.

Republicans in the House of Representatives want to cut the corporate tax rate to 20% from 35% and pay for those cuts with a border adjustment that would tax imports but not exports. The tax is expected to impact domestic refiners the most severely in the energy sector.

--Brian Scheid, brian.scheid@spglobal.com
--Edited by Annie Siebert, ann.siebert@spglobal.com




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