- President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to roll back regulations on the oil and gas industry in an effort to boost fossil fuels production, but just how far policies can go in reversing the ongoing trend towards decarbonization remains an open question, the Washington Post reports.
- While some new rules regulating the industry have been finalized under President Obama's administration, other rules still being drafted would likely be put on hold during the transition.
- Likely safe are rules issued this year that place restrictions on new oil and gas facilities. But expanding the rule to cover existing infrastructure would need to happen under the next administration, and that now appears unlikely.
It's only been a week since the United States elected Republican Donald Trump as its next President, and the energy sector is still mulling the possible implications. Trump ran a campaign largely based around undoing the regulations put in place by Obama, and he has promised a resurgence in coal country.
But campaign promises are one thing, and market forces are another. Trump has already moved to reassure the renewables industry that his administration will not roll back subsidies. And the decline of coal has largely been at the hands of cheap gas, as well as established restrictions on emissions. But methane emissions from the natural gas sector are a major focus, and while some new rules were finalized this year the Post reports it is unlikely a more expansive set of restrictions will be put in place.
Obama last year said he wanted to cut methane emissions 40-45% from 2012 levels by 2025. As part of that plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized rules earlier this year to limit methane emissions from new and heavily modified oil and gas facilities. That rule also initiated a process to consider limits for existing facilities, but that change was expected to be taken up by the next administration and now appears unlikely.
Also of concern are the Clean Power Plan and the United States' commitments to the Paris climate accord.
“It's much easier for Trump to repeal rules than statutes,” Brian Potts, a partner at the law firm Perkins Coie, told Utility Dive. “With the Clean Power Plan, he's got multiple options if he wants to scrap it or cut it back.” However, Trump would face more of a challenge in repealing clean energy laws through Congress, even with Republican control, said Cole.