The Trump administration said it plans to boost domestic energy production and increase drilling, especially on federal lands, while also scuttling “burdensome” environmental proposals unveiled during the Obama years, according to an updated White House website.
Meanwhile, there were reports that Trump plans to name Cheryl LaFleur as FERC chairman during his first days in office.
On Friday, the day of Trump’s inauguration as the nation’s 45th president, the website included a section titled “An America First Energy Plan.”
“Sound energy policy begins with the recognition that we have vast untapped domestic energy reserves right here in America,” the White House said. “The Trump administration will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution to bring jobs and prosperity to millions of Americans.
“We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, especially those on federal lands that the American people own. We will use the revenues from energy production to rebuild our roads, schools, bridges and public infrastructure. Less expensive energy will be a big boost to American agriculture as well.”
The website added that Trump “is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies,” and it specifically mentions the climate action plan and the Clean Water Rule (CWR). The former was rolled out by Obama in 2013, while the latter was released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2015.
“Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next seven years,” the White House said.
The climate action plan came down hard on coal-fired power plants, while the CWR was designed to clarify what constitutes Waters of the United States, thereby deserving protection under the Clean Water Act. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a stay on the CWR in October 2015.
Despite its move to eliminate the two aforementioned proposals, the new administration said it is committed to protecting the environment.
“Our need for energy must go hand-in-hand with responsible stewardship of the environment,” the White House said. “Protecting clean air and clean water, conserving our natural habitats, and preserving our natural reserves and resources will remain a high priority. President Trump will refocus the EPA on its essential mission of protecting our air and water.”
Trump made no mention of energy in his inaugural address, his first speech to the nation as president. His picks to lead the EPA, the Department of Interior and the Department of Energy — Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt,Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, respectively — had confirmation hearings in the Senate last week. All three said they believe climate change is real, which is a significant departure from Trump.
According to Bloomberg News, Trump plans to name LaFleur to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. She would take over from Norman Bay, who took the helm at FERC in April 2015. The report cited two unidentified sources with knowledge of the situation.
LaFleur, a Democrat, has served as a FERC commissioner since her appointment by Obama in 2010. She served as acting chairman for 18 months before Bay took the lead job. LaFleur had more than 20 years’ experience as a leader in the electric and natural gas industry, serving as executive vice president and acting CEO of National Grid USA, responsible for the delivery of electricity to 3.4 million customers in the Northeast.
Bay, formerly head of FERC’s Office of Enforcement, has stepped up enforcement activities since becoming chairman. Besides citing several banks for trading violations, the Commission has tangled with two high-profile companies, BP and Total SA, with accusations of market manipulation and calling for high-dollar fines.
There are currently no Republicans on the five-member Commission, which sports two vacancies. Nominating and confirming new commissioners would compete with confirmation proceedings for other Trump nominees.
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