US election results improve prospects for federal policy reforms

The US oil and gas industry’s prospects for reforming federal policies, from arbitrary quotas under the Renewable Fuel Standard to reduced leasing opportunities on the US Outer Continental Shelf, brightened as Donald J. Trump beat Hillary Clinton for the presidency and Republicans kept control of both houses of Congress in the 2016 elections.

Trade associations and their leaders generally emphasized strong commitments to work with the incoming administration and Congress in their initial responses on Nov. 9. Several also identified areas in which they would be pressing for changes.

American Petroleum Institute Pres. Jack N. Gerard said in a statement, “We are second to no one and we can build on this success by joining together with policies that embrace our nation’s energy renaissance, including increased energy production and infrastructure development, while rejecting policies that could potentially harm job creation or raise costs on American consumers and businesses.”

National Ocean Industries Association Pres. Randall B. Luthi congratulated Trump, and urged the president-elect to “unequivocally reestablish the US commitment to ‘all-of-the-above’ energy policies. “Government projections show that the demand for energy of all kinds will continue to increase in America and around the world for the foreseeable future. Offshore has the potential to be a true energy incubator, supplying both traditional forms of energy and nontraditional sources such as wind, wave and current,” he said.

Traditional fuels, including oil and gas, are expected to supply about 80% of the world’s energy needs for at least the next generation, however, according to Luthi. “Oil and gas from US offshore areas helps meet this demand, and contributed 16% of our domestic oil production and 5% of our domestic natural gas production in 2015. This contribution is remarkable, considering that unwise federal energy policy has kept approximately 87% of the US OCS closed to exploration for more than 30 years,” he said.

Alaska OCS lease sales

Luthi noted that while the final decision on keeping Beaufort and Chukchi Sea lease sales in the next 5-year OCS program rests with US President Barack Obama, the president-elect still could wield some influence.

“Many of President Obama’s own advisors have recently gone on record in support of Arctic OCS development as integral to US national security, and Alaskans, including Native Alaskan communities, overwhelmingly support the lease sales,” NOIA’s president said. “Alaskans depend on oil and gas development and production for their livelihoods, and their voices should not be ignored.”

Independent Petroleum Association of America officials were on their way to Sea Island, Ga., for the group’s annual meeting Nov. 9-11, and were not immediately available. Its web site listed hydraulic fracturing, proliferating regulations, offshore access, endangered species rules, and methane emissions requirements as key issues.

Tim Wigley, president of the Western Energy Alliance in Denver, said, “American producers have been deluged by regulatory agencies bent on making it more difficult to produce American energy even as President Obama worked so hard to help Iranian producers.

Wigley said, “American oil and gas producers have met every legitimate environmental challenge, from reducing the footprint on the land to conserving species and increasing water reuse and recycling. We look forward to working with an administration that will sensibly encourage that strong environmental record while unleashing job creation. We anticipate good policies moving forward such as the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, [LNG] exports, and energy projects on nonpark, non-wilderness federal lands.”

‘A new opportunity’

American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Pres. Chet Thompson said AFPM congratulated the president-elect and 115th Congress on their victories. “We look forward to working with President-Elect Trump and Congress on restoring balance to environmental regulation, reforming the Renewable Fuel Standard, developing a modern energy infrastructure, training a new generation of workers, and modernizing the tax code,” Thompson said.

Interstate Natural Gas Association of America Pres. Donald F. Santa said gas pipeline owners and operators look forward to working to ensure that policies continue to facilitate development of gas and the pipelines necessary to transport it to markets.

“Natural gas is critical to rebuilding our manufacturing economy and lowering consumer energy costs,” Santa said. “Our industry stands ready to help America reach its energy potential—while creating jobs and economic prosperity—by continuing to serve as the indispensable link between natural gas producers and consumers.”

American Energy Alliance Pres. Thomas Pyle said, “This election showed that the American people are tired of their interests taking a back seat to special interests in Washington. President-elect Trump’s victory presents an opportunity reset the harmful energy policies of the last generation. He has laid out an energy plan that puts the needs of American families and workers first.”

He said AEA was among the first groups to endorse Trump’s candidacy.

Environmental groups, meanwhile, declared the 2016 election results a calamity, and urged their members to keep opposing continued use of fossil fuels as a way to limit global climate change impacts.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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