Headlamp – One of Obama Administration’s Greatest Wrongs is Righted Under President Trump 

Trump pushes the camel’s nose out of the tent! The Trump EPA, under Administrator Scott Pruitt, has undone one of the most egregious actions taken by the Obama administration, which was then-EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s 2014 decision to preemptively veto the mining of Pebble deposit. Pebble deposit, which is located on state land in southwest Alaska, contains an estimated $400 billion worth of copper, gold, and molybdenum. In 2014, the Obama EPA took the unprecedented step of preemptively vetoing the project before Pebble Partnership, the group seeking to develop the deposit, had even submitted an application for permit. When that unprecedented action was still under consideration, a coalition of more than 20 nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations from all regions of the country sent the Obama EPA a letter warning that such a preemptive veto “would have a dramatic chilling effect on investment in America and show that many Third World countries have more regulatory certainty than the U.S.” One doesn’t have to be a mining proponent to be opposed to the unprecedented action taken by the Obama EPA with their preemptive veto of Pebble Mine before an application was even submitted. If the EPA is allowed to preemptively shut down Pebble before the finalization of a mine plan and the submission of an application, then the EPA can unjustifiably and preemptively shut down any development project in any state in the nation, whether it be a hydroelectric plant in Washington state, a natural gas well in Ohio, or a wind farm in Wyoming.

Greenpeace loses, again. The government acts in accordance with the law when awarding new petroleum exploration licenses for the Barents Sea, Oslo District Court ruled Thursday, in response to a lawsuit challenging the licenses on climate change grounds. Greenpeace, one of the three organizations which filed the landmark suit, has published the court’s 49-pages comprehensive ruling. The lawsuit challenged Norway’s 23rd oil licensing round, arguing that opening up the Arctic continental shelf would violate the country’s Paris agreement commitments to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. “Whether Norway is doing enough for the environment and climate and if it was sensible to open fields so far north and east, are questions depending on composed assessments that are better assessed through political processes that the courts are not eligible to test,” the ruling says.

If we build it, will they come? On Thursday, conservation groups hammered the Trump administration’s proposal to put the U.S. Arctic Ocean back on the table for future leasing, but history suggests that oil exploration there will proceed cautiously, if at all. Roger Marks, a private petroleum economist in Anchorage, said two major rounds of exploratory drilling in the region, one in the 1980s and another in more recent years, led to a string of failures and uneconomic discoveries. “Unless they find a new prospect or reinterpret the seismic data they have, it’s unclear to me (whether) there would be a lot of zeal for going back in there,” Marks said. Oil companies punched more than 30 wells into the region starting in the 1980s, primarily in the Beaufort Sea. And about a decade ago, Shell launched a massive Arctic Ocean exploration program, after snatching up more than $2 billion in federal leases in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

Energy Weakness vs. Energy Dominance. The Trump administration is proposing to greatly expand the areas available for offshore oil and natural gas drilling, including off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.  In the first major step toward the administration’s promised expansion of offshore drilling, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said nearly all of the nation’s outer continental shelf is being considered for drilling, including areas off the coasts of Maine, California, Florida and Alaska. The proposal, which environmentalists immediately panned as an environmental disaster and giveaway to the fossil fuel industry, is far larger than what was envisioned in President Trump ’s executive order last year seeking a new plan for the future of auctions of offshore drilling rights. That order asked Zinke to consider drilling expansions in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans.

First Reads:

Arctic Drilling Not The Only Alaska Resource Development Project Poised For Green Light Under Trump
Forbes, Patrick Gleason, January 4, 2018

If the Arctic Ocean is reopened to drilling, will the industry come?
Anchorage Daily News, Alex DeMarban, January 4, 2018

Climate activists lose landmark lawsuit challenging Arctic oil drilling in Norway
Arctic Now/The Barents Observer, Thomas Nilsen, January 5, 2018

Trump proposes massive expansion of offshore drilling
The Hill, Timothy Cama, January 4, 2018