Energy policy in Trump era bodes well for Americans and business

Energy policy in Trump era bodes well for Americans and business
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At a Bismarck, North Dakota, speech in May 2016, then candidate Donald Trump outlined his “America First Energy Plan,” an ambitious, reform-focused agenda that declared U.S. energy dominance a strategic economic and foreign policy goal and promised to lift restrictions on American energy to create a flood of new jobs.

As the Trump administration enters its second year, it makes sense to take stock of progress made on the president’s ambitious agenda. Most people are familiar with the big ticket items, including approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines, clearing the way for oil and gas leasing in the Arctic and outercontinental shelf, and steps taken to repeal and rewrite the Environmental Protection Agency’s onerous and unlawful “Clean Power Plan.”

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While these high-profile actions illustrate the president’s consistent emphasis on advancing U.S. energy for economic growth, the collective impact from scores of other measures may be an even bigger part of the energy story of the last 12 months. Our comprehensive Energy Tracker provides a unique and detailed look at these individual actions that are an easily-forgotten part of the bigger picture.

For example, the tracker shows that, as of his first year in office, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE has issued eight executive orders impacting energy (either directly or indirectly through regulatory directives) and four presidential memoranda on energy (all focused on pipelines and permitting). He signed four public laws directly impacting the energy sector (three under the Congressional Review Act and tax reform legislation authorizing leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge).

In turn, executive branch agencies are moving swiftly to implement these directives in a manner that allows for safe and responsible resource development. For example, the Department of Interior is steadily expanding access to U.S. energy resources placed off limits by excessively burdensome Obama-era policies.

To do so, they are advancing new oil and gas leases and repealing or revising rules on everything from hydraulic fracturing and venting and flaring on federal lands to land use restrictions via monument designations and sage grouse regulations. Over at the EPA, reconsideration of major rules related to ozone, methane, regional haze, and “Waters of the United States” are all underway as part of a process that aims to ensure that the U.S. remains a global leader in environmental stewardship while reining in the agency’s overreach.

Even these numerous examples are a fraction of the overall picture. Tracker data shows that, across the government, the Trump administration has finalized action on 17 different energy-related regulatory and policy reforms, released formal proposals addressing seven more areas, and has initiated reviews for potential changes in 16 more areas. (These figures do not include project-specific actions such as leases or permit approvals.)

While much work needs to be done in both the executive and judicial branches to get all of these reforms across the finish line, by any objective measure it is clear that substantial progress has been made. Whatever their ultimate outcome, the number and comprehensive scope of these important pro-energy actions send an unmistakable and powerful signal: American energy policy is and will remain foundational to the Trump administration’s strategy to spur economic growth, jobs and investment.

This continued focus is sure to strengthen and accelerate the industry trends that have led America to become the world’s energy superpower, translating into higher production, lower prices, and greater energy and economic security. That is good news for U.S. energy producers and consumers alike, and it will truly make a difference in the pocketbooks of families and businesses that depend on affordable and reliable energy for their success.

Dan Byers is vice president of policy at the Global Energy Institute at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.