It’s a new year, and Americans can expect the Trump administration to continue pushing its “energy dominance” agenda.
President Donald Trump made “energy dominance” a key part of his economic growth strategy, a plan that includes cutting regulations and taxes seen as burdening industries. Federal agencies have already rolled back major energy regulations and, with the help of Congress, repealed others through the Congressional Review Act.
Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) repealed the Clean Power Plan and the “waters of the United States” rule last year, and overturned an Obama-era moratorium on new coal mining leases.
The Interior Department is also rolled back Obama administration policies and increased the amount of federal land being offered for lease. The department is also on the verge of releasing a new five-year offshore drilling plan that’s expected to drastically increase the area available for energy exploration.
Here’s what to expect from Trump on energy in 2018:
1. Cutting regulations left and right
In a December press conference, Trump promised to cut regulations back to 1960 levels, which means federal agencies will have to find ways to eliminate about 165,000 pages of rules from the Code of Federal Regulations.
The White House said agencies have delayed or withdrawn more than 1,500 regulations, cutting $8.1 billion in regulatory costs. Even more is planned for 2018.
2. Opening up offshore areas to energy production
As mentioned earlier, the Trump administration is expected to release a new five-year plan for offshore drilling that would drastically increase the acreage available to oil, gas and wind power producers.
The plan, which was unexpectedly delayed in December, is expected to reverse the Obama-era decision not to open parts of the Atlantic Ocean to energy production, and it will likely overturn an order keeping large swaths of the Arctic seas off-limits to all development.
3. Propping up nuclear and coal plants
Energy Secretary Rick Perry asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) last year to create a “grid resilience” policy to compensate baseload power generators in certain markets for keep 90-day stockpiles of fuel.
FERC has until January 10 to respond to Perry’s request, and the commission is expected to issue some sort of policy that would likely favor coal and nuclear power plants, many of which are under threat of closure.
Environmentalists have teamed up with green energy producers and the oil and gas industry to stop FERC from issuing a rule. Expect the battle to heat up as the deadline for FERC to respond draws near.
4. Will the U.S. stick with Obama’s other climate accord?
The Trump administration has yet to send the Senate the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol. The Senate will need to approve the Kigali amendment, which would phase out hydroflourocarbons, or HFCs.
The White House has so far been silent on what actions it would take. Given Trump’s opposition to the Paris accord, it could be awkward for the administration to stick with the Kigali climate treaty.
5. Shrinking more national monuments
Trump signed orders to shrink the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments by more than 2 million acres in December, setting off a wave of backlash from environmental groups and tribal officials.
Trump shrank the Utah monuments’ boundaries based on recommendations from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. But Zinke’s report also recommended changing the borders of two more national monuments and changing the management plans for 10 others.
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