Trump and the Oil Patch One Year In

by Gray Reed & McGraw

Let’s take a look at what President Trump has done for the oil industry in his first year (This is not about decorum, dossiers, tweets, or Oprah’s inauguration.) As in the past I refer to sources whose opinions and insights are more knowledgeable than mine.

No More “Sue and Settle”

Cronyism or good government? Depends on your point of view. President Obama’s Department of the Interior had a convenient arrangement with their supposed “cronies” – the environmentalists – in which a suit would be filed on a federal regulation, then while nobody was looking promptly settled on terms favorable to the enviros. Here’s how the “racket” worked, according to David Blackmon in Forbes. Now, President Trump’s Interior Secretary Fred Zinke, an alleged “crony” of the oil business. has put an end to the controversial policy, to the chagrin of some.

No More Clean Power Plan

Obama’s EPA touted the CPP, aimed primarily at coal-fired power plants, as a way to reduce carbon pollution, save billions in climate- and health-related costs, and foster a healthier citizenry. Others, such as the Heritage Foundation, were skeptical, citing higher energy costs and a negligible effect on rising temperatures.

Implementation had been blocked by litigation from states and companies, fearing devastation to their economies from what they considered to be regulatory overreach. Regardless, its gone.

No More BLM Fracking Rule

The Trump administration has rescinded the Obama-instigated BLM hydraulic fracturing rules, which would have governed drilling on federal lands. Originally slated to take effect in 2015, these rules were blocked by a Wyoming federal judge. Again, regardless, they’re gone

No Jail Time for Dead Birds (for their killers, that is)

You might recall prosecutions of oil and gas operators for violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by such activities as a wastewater treatment facility.

The Department of the Interior’s Office of the Solicitor has issued Memorandum M-37050, adopting the position that the MBTA prohibition on the “taking” or “killing” of migratory birds applies only to deliberate acts intended to take a migratory bird. The Obama administration interpreted the MBTA to prohibit incidental, unintentional taking.

The confusion is because the MBTA doesn’t address whether it is intended to prohibit incidental taking, and the federal circuits are split on the question.

This new “certainty” could be short-lived. An opinion of the Department’s Solicitor guides the Department, but is not binding on a federal court considering the same issue. Three years from now a President Warren (ponder that for a moment) could revert to the Obama interpretation. Only statutory or Supreme Court clarification will clear up the question. Toward that end, a House Committee recently agreed to clarify the MBTA so as to exclude activity that is “accidental or incidental to the presence or operation of an otherwise lawful activity.”

The change also lets wind farms – those avian hamburger grinders – off the hook as well.

More offshore drilling? Not so fast

By executive order, U S waters off all coasts everywhere are now open to drilling. Well, except for Florida and maybe 12 other states

A musical interlude   For those who can’t get over that he’s doing what he said he would do.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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