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Trump Signs Order Targeting Red Tape; Interior Postpones Valuation Rule

President Trump signed an executive order Friday requiring every agency of the federal government to establish a regulatory reform task force to identify regulations that should be repealed or modified.

Meanwhile, the Department of Interior (DOI) said it would postpone enacting a final rule designed to improve the valuation of natural resources on public and tribal lands, and clarifying how the resources' market value is calculated for royalty purposes.

According to the White House, the executive order signed by Trump calls for each task force to "evaluate existing regulations and identify candidates for repeal or modification." The task forces will also "focus on eliminating costly and unnecessary regulations," and make reports on their progress.

The White House contends regulations enacted during the Obama administration cost American taxpayers a total of $873 billion.

"They will have to really report every once in awhile to us so we can report on the progress, and so we can come up with some even better solutions," Trump said at a signing ceremony on Friday. "This executive order is one of many ways we're going to get real results when it comes to removing job-killing regulations and unleashing economic opportunity...

"Every regulation should have to pass a simple test: Does it make life better or safer for American workers or consumers? If the answer is ‘no,’ we will be getting rid of it and getting rid of it quickly. We will stop punishing companies for doing business in the United States. It's going to be absolutely just the opposite. They're going to be incentivized for doing business in the United States."

Neil Bradley, senior vice president for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the nation's businesses need regulatory relief and reform to kick-start the economy.

"Business owners from all sectors and industries have acknowledged that red tape sows uncertainty and holds back investment and innovation," Bradley said in a statement Friday. "The executive order signed today sends a strong signal that the president and his cabinet want to accelerate economic growth and create more American jobs."

On Friday, DOI issued a notification that its Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) would postpone enacting a rule [ONRR-2012-0004] that would affect oil and natural gas produced in federal onshore and offshore leases, and coal produced from federal and Indian leases. The notification is to be published in Monday's issue of the Federal Register.

Although the rule took effect on Jan. 1, federal and Indian lessees were not required to report and pay royalties until Tuesday. DOI said it was postponing the rule to give a federal court more time to resolve three lawsuits filed against the rule last December. House Republicans also want the rule invalidated.

"While ONRR believes the rule was properly promulgated, the petitioners have raised serious questions concerning the validity of certain provisions of the rule, including the expansion of the 'default provision' and the use of the sales price of electricity for certain coal-royalty valuations," DOI said. "Given this legal uncertainty, maintaining the status quo is critical..."

According to DOI, postponing the rule will "avoid the substantial cost of retroactively correcting and verifying all revenue reports" if the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming ultimately invalidates the rule, either in whole or in part. Postponement will also give lessees more time to use the existing system for reporting and paying royalties. That system has been in place for 25 years.

"ONRR has received numerous legitimate questions from lessees on how to apply the rule, some of which will require additional consideration and time before ONRR can definitively answer them, thus increasing the likelihood that lessees will initially report incorrectly and later need to adjust their reports," DOI said.

Earlier this month, DOI's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management withdrew more stringent financial assurance requirements for offshore production facilities. The requirements were withdrawn in order to give the Trump administration more time to review them.

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