Type: Law Bulletins
Date: 04/11/2017

Trump's March 28 Executive Order Rescinds Energy Rules and Guidance and Forces Agency Self-Evaluation

President Trump’s March 28 executive order titled “Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” immediately rescinds numerous energy-related rules and guidance issued during President Obama’s term in office. In addition, President Trump’s executive order broadly requires agencies to evaluate their regulations affecting the development or use of domestic energy supplies and to suspend, revise or rescind any regulations that “unduly burden” the development of domestic energy resources. The executive order reflects President Trump’s stated desire of rolling back Obama-era energy regulations and promoting domestic energy resources. A more detailed summary of the executive order is below, and the full text of the executive order can be accessed here.

Purpose of the Executive Order

The executive order states that it is in furtherance of the national interest to promote “clean and safe” development of domestic energy resources while avoiding unnecessary regulatory burdens. This includes ensuring that U.S. electricity is: (i) affordable; (ii) reliable; (iii) safe; (iv) secure; (v) clean; and (vi) produced from domestic sources. The executive order also reflects the stated U.S. policy of promoting clean air and water, while simultaneously respecting the proper roles of Congress and the states concerning such matters.

Requirements of the Executive Order

The executive order requires departments and agencies (collectively, “agencies”) to immediately review existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies and any other similar agency action that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources (with a particular focus on oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear energy resources). Agencies are called to suspend, revise or rescind regulations that “unduly burden” the development of domestic energy resources, with the term “burden” meaning to “unnecessarily obstruct, delay, curtail, or otherwise impose significant costs on the siting, permitting, production, utilization, transmission, or delivery of energy resources.” Effective immediately, when monetizing the value of changes in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from regulations, agencies must ensure that any such estimates are consistent with the guidance contained in OMB Circular A-4 of Sept. 17, 2003. In addition, the executive order requires the Secretary of the Interior to lift any and all moratoria on federal land coal leasing activities related to President Obama’s Jan. 15, 2016 Executive Order 3338 (“Discretionary Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement to Modernize the Federal Coal Program”).

The executive order requires agencies to take the following actions within the next 45-180 days:

  1. Within 45 days, the head of each agency must develop and submit to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget a plan to carry out the review required by the executive order.
  2. Within 120 days, the head of each agency must submit a draft final report detailing the results of each agency’s review of its regulations, including specific recommendations that could alleviate or eliminate agency actions that burden domestic energy production.
  3. Within 180 days, each agency must finalize its draft report. The Office of Management and Budget Director is tasked with coordinating the recommended actions included in each agency’s final report.

The EPA is required to take all necessary steps to review the following final and proposed rules (and any related rules/guidance issued pursuant to them) and suspend, revise or rescind such rules if they are inconsistent with the policy statements in the executive order:

  1. Clean Power Plan final rule (“Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units” 80 Fed. Reg. 64661).
  2. Final rule “Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New, Modified, and Reconstructed Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units” (80 Fed. Reg. 64509).
  3. Proposed rule “Federal Plan Requirements for Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Electric Utility Generating Units Constructed on or Before January 8, 2014; Model Trading Rules; Amendments to Framework Regulations” (80 Fed. Reg. 64966).
  4. Final rule “Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources” (81 Fed. Reg. 35824).

Actions, Rules, Reports and Guidance Rescinded by the Executive Order

The executive order immediately revokes or rescinds the following presidential actions and reports:

  1. Executive Order 13653 of November 1, 2013 (“Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change”).
  2. The Presidential Memorandum of June 25, 2013 (“Power Sector Carbon Pollution Standards”).
  3. The Presidential Memorandum of November 3, 2015 (“Mitigating Impacts on Natural Resources from Development and Encouraging Related Private Investment”).
  4. The Presidential Memorandum of September 21, 2016 (“Climate Change and National Security”).
  5. The Report of the Executive Office of the President of June 2013 (“The President’s Climate Action Plan”).
  6. The Report of the Executive Office of the President of March 2014 (“Climate Action Plan Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions”).

In addition, the executive order requires the Council on Environmental Quality to rescind its final guidance titled “Final Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies on Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and the Effects of Climate Change in National Environmental Policy Act Reviews.” Agency heads are also required to identify any existing agency actions related to the rescinded items above and to suspend, revise or rescind such actions as soon as practicable. Finally, the executive order disbands the Interagency Working Group on Social Costs of Greenhouse Gases and withdraws many of its publications as no longer representing governmental policy.

For more information, please contact a member of Taft's Environmental group.

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