Trump’s vi­sion on en­ergy pro­pels In­te­rior to ac­tion

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Juliet Eilperin

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.

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