Zinke issues orders in response to Trump’s executive order on energy

US Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke issued two secretarial orders on Mar. 29 that implement reviews of Department of the Interior agency actions and restore the federal coal leasing program in response to the Mar. 28 Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth that President Donald J. Trump signed a day earlier.

US Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke issued two secretarial orders on Mar. 29 that implement reviews of Department of the Interior agency actions and restore the federal coal leasing program in response to the Mar. 28 Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth that President Donald J. Trump signed a day earlier.

Zinke also signed a charter establishing a Royalty Policy Committee to provide him regular advice on the fair market value of and collection of revenue from federal and American Indian mineral and energy leases, including renewable energy sources.

“American energy powers our national and local economies. But for too many local communities, energy on public lands has been more of a missed opportunity and has failed to include local consultation and partnership,” Zinke said.

Secretarial Order 3348 overturns the 2016 moratorium on all new federal coal leasing and ends the programmatic environmental impact statement that was to be completed no sooner than 2019.

Based on the department’s review of Secretarial Order 3338, the new order noted that “the public interest is not served by halting the federal coal program for an extended time, nor is a PEIS required to consider potential improvements to the program.” It said that the federal coal leasing program supplies about 40% of the coal produced in the US and is vital to the US economy.

Order 3348 directs the US Bureau of Land Management to process coal lease applications and modifications expeditiously in accordance with regulations and guidance which existed before then-Interior Sec. Sally Jewell issued Order 3338 on Jan. 15.

In addition to implementing agency action reviews in response to Trump’s executive order, DOI said Secretarial Order 3349 directs a reexamination of the mitigation and climate change policies and guidance across the department “in order to better balance conservation strategies and policies with the equally legitimate need of creating jobs for hardworking American families.”

It particularly sets a timetable for reviewing agency actions that may hamper responsible energy development and for reconsidering regulations related to US oil and gas development, DOI noted.

The new Royalty Policy Committee also may advise Zinke on the potential impacts of proposed policies and regulations related to revenue collection from federal energy resource development, including whether a need exists for regulatory reform. It will consist of as many as 28 local, tribal, state, and other stakeholders and operate in an advisory role, DOI said.

“It’s important that taxpayers get the full value of traditional and renewable energy produced on public lands, and that we ensure companies conduct environmental reviews under [the National Environment Policy Act] and have reclamation plans,” Zinke said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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