President Trump made good on one of his key campaign promises on Tuesday, signing an executive order (E.O.) titled Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth. The long-awaited E.O., which was published in the Federal Register today (82 Fed. Reg. 16093), targets the Obama administration’s key climate policies, including regulations affecting power plants and oil and gas production facilities. More broadly, the E.O. affirms the Trump administration’s priority of ensuring domestically produced energy and economic growth.
The E.O. calls on all federal agencies to review existing regulations, guidance and other policies that “unduly burden” the development and use of domestic energy, with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear energy resources. Notably, the E.O. opens the door to a broad review, defining “burden” to include obstruction, delay, curtailment, or other imposition of significant costs related to “siting, permitting, production, utilization, transmission, or delivery of energy resources.” The E.O. sets an aggressive schedule for agencies to complete this review. Preliminary plans on how each agency plans to carry out the review are due to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and other White House offices by May 12, 2017. Likewise, draft reports on the agencies’ response actions are due to the OMB by July 29, 2017, with final versions due by September 25, 2017.
The E.O. specifically requires the EPA to review several climate regulations put in place by the Obama administration, including the Clean Power Plan and methane standards for oil and gas facilities. The Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service are similarly directed to review several of their respective rules related to hydraulic fracturing and nonfederal oil and gas rights.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) was also called out specifically in the E.O., which directed the DOJ to request the courts stay action on litigation related to the rules, pending their respective review. To that end, DOJ filed motions in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday to request stays in the litigation involving the Clean Power Plan and EPA’s performance standards for new, modified and reconstructed power plants.
The E.O. also rescinds a number of unilateral Obama administration climate actions including an executive order on climate mitigation, a presidential memorandum on “Climate and National Security” and the “Climate Action Plan.” Likewise, the E.O. orders the Department of the Interior to lift the Obama administration’s moratorium on federal coal leasing, which Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke has already ordered.
Finally, the E.O. disbands the Obama administration’s Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases and withdraws all versions of that group’s “social cost of carbon” estimates, including those creating a “social cost of methane.” Going forward, agencies monetizing values of changes in GHG emissions from regulations must rely on OMB Circular A-4, which emphasizes domestic regulatory costs and benefits, and encourages the use of higher discount rates when calculating such costs and benefits in the future. Such methodologies are expected to significantly lower calculated benefits resulting from greenhouse gas regulations.