Week ahead: Trump takes up ambitious energy agenda

Week ahead: Trump takes up ambitious energy agenda
© Getty Images

President Trump's first full week in office will give him the opportunity to make good on several of his energy-related campaign promises. 

The big question is: what actions will come first? 

According to reports on Inauguration Day, Trump's team was preparing a round of day-one executive actions aimed at pipeline permitting, Obama-era carbon accounting practices and drilling on federal lands. 

During the campaign, Trump said he would take many steps on energy issues early in his presidency. He promised, for instance, to: 

--"Lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars' worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal, and we will put our miners back to work;"

--"Lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow for these vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone pipeline, to move forward;" and

--"Cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America's water and environmental infrastructure."

ADVERTISEMENT

A fresh, new White House website on Friday included an energy page that said Trump would eliminate a contentious Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) water rule and end Obama's landmark Climate Action Plan, the basic framework that guided the previous administration's environment and energy agenda for three years.

On top of that, conservative states have asked Trump to end the Clean Power Plan, Obama's chief greenhouse gas regulation, and block an Obama rule changing the designation of critical habitats under the Endangered Species Act. 

All of this means Trump has a lot on his plate in the energy sphere, and he's promised to do much of it early in his presidency. An early question facing his administration is what happens first, and when? 

On Capitol Hill, Cabinet nominations begin moving in the week ahead. Former ExxonMobil Corp. CEO Rex Tillerson's nomination to be secretary of State will be first up on Monday, and the vote in the Foreign Relations Committee could end up as a dramatic one

Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioWhat’s with Trump’s spelling mistakes? Boeing must be stopped from doing business with Iran Top Trump officials push border wall as government shutdown looms MORE (R-Fla.), who blistered Tillerson with tough questions during his confirmation hearing, still hasn't said how he'll vote on his nomination. Rubio's vote is key because the GOP holds only a one-seat advantage on the committee. A deadlocked vote -- while not stopping the nomination's progress -- would be an early embarrassment for Trump and congressional leaders. 

Other energy and environment nominations could as well. 

The two Cabinet picks who went before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee --  Ryan Zinke  to be secretary of Interior and Rick Perry to lead the Energy Department -- had relatively smooth hearings. They seem likely to pass out of committee and, as of now, to be confirmed rather easily when they go before the full Senate. 

Scott Pruitt, Trump's EPA nominee, faced a much more divided Environment and Public Works Committee during his Wednesday hearing. But Republicans appear united behind his nomination, and he will likely get to the floor when that committee decides to vote as well. 

Neither committee has scheduled votes on the nominees yet. In fact the coming week's committee schedule is very light. 

The first meeting of the House Energy and Commerce Committee is on Tuesday. The hearing will be organizational, but notable because it will be Rep. Greg Walden's (R-Ore.) first time holding the gavel since his elevation to the post last year.

 

RECENT STORIES 

White House climate change webpage disappears after Trump's inauguration

Dems blast Trump plans for deep spending cuts

What we learned from Rick Perry's confirmation hearing

Perry regrets saying he would abolish Energy Department

Five takeaways from Pruitt's EPA hearing

Sanders slams Pruitt's call for 'more debate' on climate science

Earth sets temperature record for third straight year

Interior pick walks fine line on climate, highlights conservation

Obama admin injects another $500M into global climate fund

Western Dems look to climate to revitalize jobs messages