President Trump is reportedly planning to sign a series of executive orders (EO) this week before his 100th day in office, including one on energy and another on the environment, which collectively could help facilitate onshore and offshore oil and gas drilling.
In a report by Reuters on Sunday, an unidentified White House official said on Wednesday, Trump is expected to sign an EO affecting the Antiquities Act of 1906. The law gives the president the authority to create national monuments, thereby potentially setting land aside from, among other things, oil and gas development.
The official, who requested anonymity, said Trump also plans to sign an EO on Friday ordering federal agencies to review areas available for offshore oil and gas exploration, and to review rules governing offshore drilling.
Although the official did not mention any federal agencies by name, both EOs are certain to involve the Department of Interior (DOI) and may include the DOI's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
"This builds on previous EOs that have cleared the way for job-creating pipelines, innovations in energy production, and reduced unnecessary burden on energy producers," the official told Reuters.
Reuters reported that it has seen a summary of the forthcoming EOs, which reportedly state that the Trump administration believes previous administrations had "overused" the Antiquities Act. That appeared to signal that Trump plans to target Obama's decision last December to create two new national monuments -- the Bears Ears National Monument in southeast Utah, and the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada.
Bears Ears is in San Juan County, UT, which has seen mostly conventional but also some unconventional oil and gas drilling. The county overlaysthe Paradox Basin, which includes the Cane Creek and Hovenweep shales.
During his confirmation hearing in January to become DOI Secretary, Ryan Zinke testified that he is "absolutely against transfer or sale of public land." Zinke has said he would review the designations.
Saturday will be Trump's 100th day in office.
Trump has issued several EOs affecting the energy sector since taking office on Jan. 20. In January he signed two separate EOs calling for a federal hiring freeze and withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Days later, he issued an EO inviting TransCanada Corp. to resubmit its application for a presidential permit for its controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.
In early February, Trump signed a pair of EOs designed to roll back two provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Specifically, the EOs called for revisions to major provisions of Dodd-Frank, and overhauling a rule requiring brokers to act in their client's best interest, rather than seeking their own highest profits.
Later in February, Trump signed a sweeping EO requiring every agency of the federal government to establish a regulatory reform task force to identify regulations that should be repealed or modified. At the same time, the 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.
Also in late February, Trump signed an EO instructing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers to review the Clean Water Rule. The rule was designed by the Obama administration to clarify what constitutes Waters of the United States, thereby deserving protection under the Clean Water Act.
Another sweeping EO was signed in late March. It included an immediate reevaluation of the EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan, lifting a ban on federal leasing for coal production, and called for returning regulatory powers to state and local governments.
The EO also called on federal agencies to review the "social cost of carbon" methodology for crafting regulation, and rescinded guidance -- unveiled last August during the Obama administration -- for the White House's Council on Environmental Quality to help federal agencies quantify the effects of greenhouse gas emissions.