Trump’s vision on energy propels Interior to action
WASHINGTON» With control over more than 500 million acres of public land and hundreds of millions of acres offshore, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is moving rapidly to promote American production of coal, oil and gas — a critical piece of President Donald Trump’s vision for “making America great again.”
In the past few weeks alone, Zinke has lowered the price companies must pay the government for offshore drilling, acted to accelerate approval for onshore drilling permits, approved exploratory drilling in the Arctic’s Beaufort Sea, and scheduled lease sales on Western lands the Obama administration had deemed off limits.
And Zinke’s moves have immediate impact. Whereas Trump’s ambitious plans to overhaul the tax code and renegotiate international trade pacts remain far off, and his campaign to roll back environmental regulations will take months to produce results for industry, Zinke is taking concrete action to deliver on one of Trump’s most important campaign promises.
As a candidate, Trump pledged that within his first 100 days he would “lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.” While federal rules prevent him from wiping out these curbs overnight, Trump has taken what he describes as “historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel jobkilling regulations.”
At this task, Trump remarked during an event at Interior in late April, Zinke “is doing an incredible job.”
Elizabeth Gore, chairwoman of the government relations practice at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, said Trump’s clear vision on the subject has allowed Zinke to move ahead more quickly than some other appointees.
“They had very defined policy objectives from the get-go — as opposed to some areas where we’re still struggling to get meat on the bones, beyond the bullet points,” Gore said.
Since taking office, Trump has issued two major executive orders on energy development, ordering the reversal of several of President Barack Obama’s signature climate rules, as well as limits Obama imposed on drilling in the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Interior officials have moved rapidly to implement those orders, citing them in multiple federal notices seeking big shifts in policy.
The department has repeatedly upended Obamaera rules that sought to extract higher royalty payments from the energy industry.