Section 1 of the Order sets forth various policy objectives, many of which (e.g., clean, reliable, affordable, safe energy) are goals that should garner bi-partisan support. How these policies are interpreted by the various heads of agencies will be one factor guiding America’s energy future. Another policy factor may be critical, contained in section 1(d), that “all agencies should take appropriate actions to promote clean air and clean water for the American people, while also respecting the proper roles of Congress and the States concerning these matters in our constitutional republic.” This interplay between various states’ initiatives (and those states’ renewable portfolio standards) and the direction in the Order may impact the overall direction and tone set in the Order.
Section 2 tasks the heads of agencies to review all regulations, orders, policies, etc., of the agency that potentially burden energy production, “with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources.” Burden is specifically defined as “unnecessarily obstruct, delay, curtail, or otherwise impose significant costs on the siting, permitting, production, utilization, transmission, or delivery of energy resources.” The order goes on to set various intermediate and final deadlines for each agency head to plan, draft, and finalize reports to the Vice President, the OMB Director, among others, on what steps the agency plans to minimize the burden on domestic energy production. Once finalized, the head of the relevant agency is directed to revise, rescind, or commence formal rulemaking procedures consistent with the recommendations. Consider section 2 to be the catch-all for agency review, with sections 3 through 7 containing the specific targets for review. But keep in mind all reviews, regulatory actions, etc. are to be consistent with the policy directives in Section 1. Again, policy interpretation will be important.
Sections 3 and 4 of the Order rescind the CPP and dismantle supporting regulatory guidance and agency actions. To be sure, the Order revokes and rescinds President Obama’s executive orders, memorandums, and reports relating to climate change. Furthermore, the Order directs the EPA Administrator to immediately take all steps to review, and potentially rescind, the following final or proposed rules: (i) Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units (final rule); (ii) Standards of Performance for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from New, Modified, and Reconstructed Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units (final rule); and (iii) Federal Plan Requirements for Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Electric Utility Generating Units Constructed on or Before January 8, 2014 (proposed rule).
Section 5 of the Order disbands the Interagency Working Group (IWG) on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases and withdraws a number of documents issued by the IWG as no longer representative of governmental policy. These documents include the Social Cost of Carbon for Regulatory Impact Analysis (and subsequent technical updates in 2013, 2015, and 2016), as well as the application of the Social Cost of Carbon methodology to estimate the Social Cost of Methane and Social Cost of Nitrous Oxide.
Section 6 directs the Secretary of the Interior to amend or withdraw Secretary’s Order 3338 dated January 15, 2016, lift any and all moratoria on Federal land coal leasing activities, and commence Federal coal leasing activities.
Section 7 relates to oil and gas development in the United States. It directs the EPA Administrator to suspend, modify, or rescind the final rule entitled “Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources.” Section 7 also directs the Secretary of the Interior to review, revise, or commence formal rulemaking on a number of rules relating to hydraulic fracturing, non-federal oil and gas rights, and royalties. Although the last substantive section, this may not be the least, in terms of importance.
Section 8 concludes with a few general provisions.