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Coal seeks regulatory certainty in Trump’s presidency; Pruitt picked to lead EPA


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Coal seeks regulatory certainty in Trump’s presidency; Pruitt picked to lead EPA

Coal offers cautious optimism for Trump at 1st post-election conference

At one of the first industrywide gatherings since Election Day, the coal sector offered cautious optimism about the Trump administration's impact on the industry after years of challenges.

"While the president-elect's plans for short-term regulatory relief are fairly clear, plans for how one makes coal great again are not terribly clear," Cloud Peak Energy Inc.'s Vice President for Government and Public Affairs Richard Reavey said, during the 15th Annual Coal Trading Conference on Dec. 5 and 6, adding that he expects quick action that could allow some regulatory relief to the industry and send the right message about the new administration's priorities.

Trump EPA pick Pruitt known for battling Clean Power Plan

President-elect Donald Trump has selected Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as his nominee to lead the U.S. EPA, according to reports by numerous news agencies.

Pruitt has been a leading voice in the ongoing legal battle to take down several key Obama-era environmental regulations, including the Clean Power Plan and Clean Water Rule. He has been supportive of Trump's pledge to roll back those rules and has previously said he expects to see substantial changes at the EPA under the new administration.

GOP, Democrats ready battle lines on Pruitt nomination

Senate lawmakers are gearing up for a fight over President-elect Donald Trump's decision to nominate Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the U.S. EPA, but Republicans are confident Trump's choice will prevail.

"I will vigorously oppose Scott Pruitt's nomination and urge President-elect Trump to stop nominating science-denying, oil-soaked, climate change-causing polluter allies to his cabinet," said Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass. Markey, who called Pruitt "unsuitable to lead the EPA," sits on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over EPA confirmations.

Regulated generators could feel pinch from Pruitt pledge to ax Clean Power Plan

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, nominated to lead the U.S. EPA as administrator, is in lock-step with the incoming president's plans for an "energy revolution" that includes slashing Obama-era environmental regulations and promoting "responsible energy production."

Analysts with Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. see the "scale likely to radically tilt against" the Clean Power Plan and regional haze rule with Pruitt at the helm of the EPA. According to Tudor Pickering Holt, the impact of losing the Clean Power Plan on utilities will be mixed as ratebase growth for regulated generators such as Exelon Corp., Entergy Corp., NextEra Energy Inc., PPL Corp. and DTE Energy Co. will not be as robust without the carbon-cutting regulation spurring capital expenditure spending.

Trump said to offer interior secretary job to US Rep. Ryan Zinke

President-elect Donald Trump offered the interior secretary position to coal industry proponent U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke of Montana, according to a Dec. 13 story from Politico.

Zinke has been a fierce critic of the Interior Department's January decision to suspend new leases for coal production on federal lands while the department reviewed its coal leasing program. He has also defended proposed West Coast coal export terminals despite opposition from environmental groups and backed tax credits for coal production on tribal lands in Montana.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is Trump's pick for DOE

President-elect Donald Trump has selected Rick Perry as his nominee for secretary of energy, saying in a Dec. 14 statement that the former governor of Texas will lead the administration's efforts to "take advantage of our huge natural resource deposits to make America energy independent and create vast new wealth for our nation."

League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski was critical of Perry as the latest Trump pick for his cabinet. In addition to Perry, Trump has nominated Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for the U.S. EPA and ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state.

"With these nominations, it's clearer than ever that Donald Trump is hoping to install the most anti-environmental cabinet in our nation's history," Karpinski said. He added that the nominations add up to Trump creating "a polluter paradise that is completely at odds with public support for protecting our air, water, lands and wildlife."

Boosters, foes of Perry for energy secretary agree: Look at his record in Texas

Texas' longest-serving governor may soon be heading to Washington, bringing to the U.S. Department of Energy a track record of supporting the massive growth in the domestic oil and gas industry and a willingness to take on the environmental lobby.

Salo Zelermyer, senior counsel at Bracewell LLP's Washington, D.C., office and a former lawyer in the U.S. Department of Energy, said Perry has the background to be an effective energy secretary. "As governor of the state of Texas for 15 years, Rick Perry led a state that has, for decades, been critical to our domestic energy policy. During his time in office, Perry embodied the type of 'all of the above' approach to U.S. energy production that many have advocated on both sides of the aisle," he said.

Coal mine streams rule, Interior methane restrictions 'ripe' for GOP review

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said the Interior Department's Stream Protection Rule and recently finalized methane rule for oil and gas producers will be the target of Congressional Review Act challenges following Donald Trump's presidential victory in November.

Lee said he would "work tirelessly" to ensure CRA reviews for the two regulations. Those efforts will be part of the GOP's strategy to "undo the damage by this administration," U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, told attendees at the Dec. 8 policy summit. "For the first time in eight years, [we] can look forward to a friend in the White House," Smith said, adding that "President Obama chose to circumvent Congress at every step."