Federal regulations that directly impact the energy sectors have movedrapidly in a more industry-friendly direction under the Trump administration,according to a Department of the Interior official.
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Unlike previous administrations, where an incoming president usuallyspends his first term getting the bureaucracy to move in a certain direction,"with Trump, he got the bureaucracy moving in a different direction rightaway," Timothy Spisak, acting assistant director energy of Interior's Bureauof Land Management, said at the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty OwnersAssociation annual meeting in Houston.
"I wouldn't characterize it as too fast," Spisak said on the sidelines ofthe conference. "That's kind of a relative measure. He articulated a veryclear goal in his election and he's following through with it."
He stressed that BLM is working hard to fulfill its mandate of providingfor multiple uses of public lands, while protecting environmental and culturalvalues.
"I've been in D.C. for 14 years and I've never seen a resource managementplan that's less restrictive as they've been updated. That hasn't changed," hesaid. "Nobody's talking about shortchanging environmental protections."
He pointed to the controversial hydraulic fracturing rule, which wasfinalized under the Obama administration but never implemented because ofongoing litigation brought by energy groups, which considered it unnecessarilyrestrictive and duplicative of state laws.
Under an executive order signed by Trump to amend or rescind rules thatwere burdensome to energy development, BLM re-examined the hydraulicfracturing rule. "We saw that 32 states where BLM operates have some formof hydraulic fracturing rule," Spisak said.
Imposing a federal fracking rule would have created a duplication of theexisting state rules, he said.
FEDERAL FRACKING RULE SEEN AS DUPLICATIVE
"The states are a little bit closer to their operations, compared to theBLM having a more generic rule applied across the federal landscape," hesaid. "By pulling back the hydraulic fracturing rule, there's not thatconflict."
The venting and flaring rule, another BLM rule that has attractedopposition from the energy industry, is currently ensnared in litigationbefore the federal courts. "You have competing district courts," Spisaksaid.
Although the rule is currently in effect, following a decision by the 9thCircuit Court in California, "You have a Wyoming court that's weighingwhether to grant the injunction from the oil and gas industry to lift the2016 rule. We're kind of stuck in the middle right now."