On March 28, President Donald Trump signed the presidential executive order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth. This executive order hopes to be the catalyst to “unleash America’s $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves.” And by doing so, it aims to make the United States the global leader in fossil-fuel production and achieve not just “energy independence,” but “energy dominance”—a phrase that was front and center during the Trump administration’s (June 26–30, 2017), “Energy Week.” Although the coal industry has dominated the energy and environmental news, the Trump administration’s “energy dominance” agenda will shape the future of the natural gas industry as well. With the administration’s desire to emphasize domestic energy production, the regulatory environment for the natural gas industry will, no doubt, look different than it did a year ago.
Exploration Restrictions Will Ease
The Trump administration has already made proposals to reverse or eliminate the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) rule, which tightened standards on gas well construction, governed the disposal of fracking waste and required disclosure on the fracking chemicals used. The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is acting under pressure from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, where DOI has requested that the legal challenge to the current fracking rule be stayed pending the drafting and promulgation of a new rule (Wyoming v. Zinke, 10th Cir., No. 16-8068). Indeed, on June 17, the BLM sent a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding fracking on federal lands to the Office of Management and Budget for its review. Should this result in a relaxing of the BLM’s regulations on fracking on federal lands, an increase in the exploration of both natural gas and crude oil is expected. These regulatory changes will increase the supply of natural gas over the medium-term.
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