Energy, Environmental Wish List Compiled for Trump

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By Patrick Ambrosio

This holiday season, industry organizations, think tanks and states have compiled a lengthy wish list of environment and energy policies for President-elect Donald Trump, ranging from rolling back climate regulations to overhauling the nation’s bedrock environmental laws.

While environmental advocates have pledged to fight back against any actions the Trump administration may take to roll back Obama-era environmental policies, organizations including the National Association of Manufacturers and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, have highlighted specific steps Trump could take to implement as part of his stated plan to make “full use” of domestic energy sources. Trump has pledged to remove restrictions on the energy sector while refocusing the Environmental Protection Agency on ensuring clean air and clean water.

Bloomberg BNA compiled energy and environment policy papers, op-eds and letters aimed at the Trump transition team. With Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve fast approaching, here is what people are asking the Trump administration for this holiday season:

Rescind the Clean Power Plan

The Trump transition website highlights elimination of the Clean Power Plan, the EPA’s carbon dioxide standards for existing power plants, as part of the Trump energy policy agenda. While the rule is currently under a nationwide stay pending completion of judicial review, several groups have offered the Trump administration advice on how to go about scrapping it.

Clean Power Plan opponents may soon have an ally in charge of the EPA: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R), Trump’s pick to head the EPA, is part of a state coalition that is challenging the carbon dioxide limits for power plants in court. Pruitt’s allies in that legal battle, a coalition of 22 state attorneys general and two state environmental officials, sent a letter sent to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, congressional leaders and Trump’s EPA transition team, asked the incoming administration to take the following four steps to kill the Clean Power Plan:

  •  Issue an executive order on Trump’s first day in office explaining that the new administration believes the EPA doesn’t have authority to enforce the rule.
  •  Launch a formal effort to rescind the Clean Power Plan that is consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act and the Clean Air Act.
  •  Review pending litigation over the rule to determine whether a stay or settlement would be appropriate.
  •  Work with Congress on a “longer-term legislative response” to ensure that similar regulatory action isn’t taken by a future administration.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free market group based in Washington, D.C., in mid-December also highlighted the Clean Power Plan in a recommended agenda for the Trump administration to grow the economy. The organization recommended that Trump instruct the Justice Department to side with the states and industry organizations that are challenging the Clean Power Plan if the case is considered by the U.S. Supreme Court.

CEI also said Trump could direct the EPA to work on a replacement regulation to the Clean Power Plan that is limited to “within-the-fenceline” measures, such as energy-efficiency improvements in coal-fired power plants rather than the EPA’s current approach of favoring renewable generation or shifting from coal-fired utilities to those burning natural gas.

International Climate Measures

The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s recommendations aren’t limited to the Clean Power Plan: the organization released a five-part policy plan that included white papers on energy policy and regulatory reform. After eight years of criticizing the direction of the EPA under Obama, the free market group is looking to Trump to restrict the power of regulatory agencies like the EPA. Two members of the CEI, Myron Ebell and Christopher Horner, are on a “landing team” sent by Trump to the EPA to review agency rules and operations.

Recommendations included in the memos, which were authored by members of the Competitive Enterprise Institute who are not part of the Trump transition team, include a series of policy steps to reduce U.S. involvement in international climate policy.

Chief among the recommended “first steps” for the Trump administration is to end U.S. participation in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. Trump said during the campaign that he would withdraw the U.S. from the agreement, but in November told the New York Times that he has “an open mind to it”

The CEI also recommended that the Trump administration stop making contributions to the UN Green Climate Fund.

Approve the Dakota Access Pipeline

When the Army Corps of Engineers announced Dec. 4 that it would not grant approval for Energy Transfer Partners LP to construct part of the Dakota Access pipeline on its planned route, backers of the pipeline started looking to Trump to reverse that decision.

Jack Gerard, president and chief executive officer of the American Petroleum Institute, said approval of the Dakota Access pipeline should be a “top priority” once Trump is inaugurated in January.

“In just over one month, a new president and new administration can stand up for American consumers and American workers by approving this critical project,” Gerard said in a statement issued after the Corps announced its decision.

Use the Congressional Review Act

Trump’s ability to reverse course on Obama-era energy and environmental policies won’t be limited to executive branch authority: Many organizations are pushing for the incoming administration to work with Republican majorities in the House and Senate to repeal regulations issued late in Obama’s term.

The Congressional Review Act allows for expedited floor consideration of resolutions of disapproval of regulations, which would not be subject to a filibuster in the Senate. While the Congressional Review Act has only been used successfully once, to roll back a Clinton-era ergonomics rule in 2001, there is a push for its expanded use in 2017.

The Heritage Foundation, in an issue brief, urged Congress and the Trump administration to make the Congressional Review Act a “frequently used weapon” in 2017. While the Trump administration can work to rescind Obama-era rules without Congress, using the Congressional Review Act would avoid the need for a lengthy rulemaking process and possible litigation, according to the conservative group. Members of the Heritage Foundation are on Trump transition teams for the EPA and the Energy Department.

Potential regulations that the CRA could be used to overturn include Interior Department offshore drilling regulations and energy efficiency standards for home appliances, the Heritage Foundation said.

“It is a truly target-rich environment and a historic opportunity for Congress to limit the growth of red tape,” the conservative group said.

Another possible CRA target is an updated stream protection rule issued by the Interior Department Dec. 19 (RIN:1029-AC63). The National Mining Association called on Congress to move quickly to disapprove the regulation using the Congressional Review Act and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he will introduce a resolution of disapproval under the CRA to disapprove the rule next Congress.

Improve Energy Permitting

Several organizations, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the Manhattan Institute, called on the Trump administration to ease permitting for energy projects as part of his domestic agenda.

The manufacturing association’s recommendation is included in a series of white papers highlighting actions Trump could take to support the domestic manufacturing industry. The policy recommendations were developed in advance of the election, according to Ross Eisenberg, vice president of energy and resources policy at the National Association of Manufacturers.

Eisenberg told Bloomberg BNA that while energy is a very significant cost for manufacturers, the U.S. has an energy advantage that could help improve the sector’s competitiveness on the global marketplace.

“When manufacturing does well, the country does well,” Eisenberg said. “If you want to make manufacturing great, if you want to make America great, look at energy ... let’s drive that advantage.”

The manufacturing association urged the Trump administration to improve permitting processes at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as permits for energy projects under the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act.

Open Yucca Mountain

The nuclear power industry is hoping that Trump’s promise to “make full use” of domestic energy sources will include nuclear power.

The Nuclear Energy Institute sent a memo to Trump’s transition team detailing a number of recommendations to boost the nuclear industry, including a recommendation that the Energy Department finish the licensing process for Yucca Mountain in Nevada to serve as a permanent repository for used nuclear fuel.

Boost Water Infrastructure Funding

During the campaign, Trump repeatedly discussed the need to improve infrastructure across the country. State environmental agencies are pushing for the Trump administration to address the “critically overdue and monumental” level of funding needed to modernize the nation’s wastewater and drinking water infrastructure.

“Cities and towns across the country face aging and decaying water and wastewater systems, and economically stressed populations need access to capital, flexible and workable loan terms, and reduced paperwork burdens,” the Environmental Council of the States said in a letter to Pence.

Overhaul Environmental Laws

Opponents of the EPA’s regulatory direction under Obama are looking to Congress and the Trump administration to pursue changes to the Clean Air Act and other bedrock environmental laws.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute, in a recommended agenda for next Congress, suggested that lawmakers pass an amendment to the Clean Air Act stating that the EPA does not have the authority to make climate policy.

The National Association of Manufacturers recommended broader statutory overhauls in its environment white paper, urging the administration to work with Congress on a “comprehensive update” to environmental laws. Their suggestions include extending the amount of time EPA has to complete mandatory reviews of national standards for ozone and other criteria pollutants from the current five-year review cycle. The manufacturing group is one of the leading critics of EPA’s 2015 ozone standards and has supported legislation to halt implementation of that regulation.

Attorneys with the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club both told Bloomberg BNA that any effort to roll back environmental protections via Congress would be fiercely opposed by environmental advocates.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Ambrosio in Washington, D.C. at PAmbrosio@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

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