White House’s proposed fiscal 2019 budget contains permitting reforms

The Trump administration followed through on its promise to address energy project permit decision delays with a proposed fiscal 2019 federal budget on Feb. 12 that included $185 million for that purpose and for related rights-of-way questions at the US Bureau of Land Management.

The Trump administration followed through on its promise to address energy project permit decision delays with a proposed fiscal 2019 federal budget on Feb. 12 that included $185 million for that purpose and for related rights-of-way questions at the US Bureau of Land Management. The amount also included funding to establish a competitive leasing program on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain, which was authorized under the recently enacted federal tax reform act.

At the US Environmental Protection Agency, the proposed 2019 federal budget includes a permit review process within a broader reform plan that also includes deploying a lean management system and reducing reporting burdens on the regulated community. The agency also will seek $50.9 million for underground tank storage cleanups and state cooperative agreements, $12.3 million for its oil spill prevention, preparedness, and response program, and $27 million in grants to state agencies seeking to direct federal money to priorities the states consider important.

Elsewhere in the proposed budget, the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund excise tax would be reestablished, producing a projected $354 million in receipts in 2019, more than $2.62 billion from 2019 to 2023, and more than $4.78 billion from 2019 to 2028.

The White House produced its annual proposed federal budget for the coming fiscal year closer to its customary time in 2018 than it did a year earlier, when it was delayed for a few months. Congress normally modifies the requests over several months before sending a final budget to the president for his signature.

In recent years, lawmakers were unable to agree and passed continuing resolutions using numbers from the previous year instead. President Donald Trump signed into law the budget for fiscal 2018, covering the period from Oct. 1, 2017, to Sept. 30, 2018, days before the White House submitted its fiscal 2019 budget proposal (OGJ Online, Feb. 9, 2018).

Overall, the US Department of the Interior would have an $11.8-billion budget that would include a Public Lands Infrastructure Fund to be funded from a projected 50% increase in energy leasing revenue to address maintenance backlogs at national parks, national wildlife refuges, and Bureau of Indian Education schools.

Other BLM priorities

In addition to the $185 million to address permit processing delays and related ROW questions, BLM would receive $82.1 million for range management, $90 million for outdoor recreation management, $24.9 million for deferred maintenance, and $24.2 million for law enforcement. DOI also would seek congressional reauthorization of a recreation fee that produces nearly $260 million/year under a law due to expire Sept. 30 for recreation facilities on BLM and other federally managed lands.

The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s proposed $199.9-million budget would include an estimated $67.9 million in offsetting collections, including $20.3 million from rental receipts, $3.8 million from cost recoveries, and $43.8 million from inspection fees. The agency has undertaken change initiatives to increase participation in its efforts to collect and use near-miss data to identify operational trends, Director Scott Angelle said.

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will seek $179.3 million, including $9.4 million to build a national Outer Continental Shelf plan that considers 25 planning areas identified within the recently proposed 2019-24 US Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas leasing program.

At the US Department of Energy, more than $1.7 billion is proposed across the applied energy programs which support early-stage research and development projects. Of that amount, more than $300 million would go to the Fossil Energy Office to support national laboratory research on clean, efficient fossil fuels and systems, and bolster early-stage critical materials R&D. A larger portion, $757 million, would go to the Office of Nuclear Energy, prioritizing support for early-stage R&D on advanced reactor technologies, including small modular reactors, and advanced instrumentation and manufacturing methods.

Within the US Department of Transportation, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration would receive $254.3 million, including $127 million for pipeline safety, $52.1 million for hazardous materials safety, and $28.3 million for emergency preparedness grants.

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission submitted a budget comprised of a projected $369.9 million in collections, up from $344.4 million, to offset its appropriation request.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

More in Companies