On March 28, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order that, among other things, (1) directed the Council on Environmental Quality (“CEQ”) to rescind its guidance for federal departments and agencies on the consideration of greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions in National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) reviews; (2) withdrew documents implementing the Social Cost of Carbon tool for regulatory impact analysis; and (3) directed the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to review and determine whether to withdraw or revise the Clean Power Plan, which several agencies were in the process of implementing (see January 29, 2016 edition of the WER).
In the Executive Order, President Trump stated that it is in the national interest to promote clean and safe development of energy resources while also avoiding regulatory burdens that encumber energy production, economic growth, and job creation. Further, President Trump stated that the prudent development of energy resources is “essential to ensuring the Nation’s geopolitical security.” Thus, President Trump stated that it is U.S. policy that federal departments and agencies review regulations that potentially burden the development of domestic energy resources and appropriately revise or rescind regulations that unduly burden such development, while also taking appropriate actions to promote clean air and water.
To help effectuate this policy, President Trump directed the CEQ to rescind its final guidance for agencies on considering GHG emissions and the effects of climate change in NEPA reviews, such as FERC’s consideration of an application under the Natural Gas Act to construct new interstate pipeline facilities. In addition, in order for agencies to use estimates of costs and benefits “based on the best available science and economics,” President Trump ordered the disbandment of the Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases (“IWG”) and the withdrawal of certain documents issued by the IWG regarding the Social Cost of Carbon, a tool used in cost-benefit analyses to measure the long-term impact of carbon emissions expressed in dollars. In its place, President Trump directed agencies to use estimates that are consistent with OMB Circular A-4, a guidance document “embodying the best practices for conducting regulatory cost-benefit analysis.” Furthermore, President Trump directed the EPA Administrator to review the Clean Power Plan and its related rules to determine whether it comports with the Executive Order’s policy goals and suspend, revise, or rescind the rule if applicable.
In addition to these directives, President Trump took several other actions in the Executive Order to help implement his energy policy. Of note, President Trump:
• Ordered the heads of agencies to review all existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, and policies that potentially burden the development of energy resources;
• Revoked certain presidential memoranda and executive orders related to climate change;
• Ordered the Secretary of the Interior to amend or withdraw the moratorium on federal land coal leasing; and
• Ordered the EPA Administrator and Secretary of the Interior to review certain rules governing emission or production standards for oil and natural gas.
A copy of the Executive Order is available here.