The Trump White House may be preparing an executive order dealing with the Antiquities Act, a sweeping measure used by presidents to fence off large areas of the American West. “I don’t think we’re quite done with the executive orders,” Mike McKenna, who was a senior member of the Trump administration’s energy transition team, said yesterday. There are more order to come and “probably something clarifying where we are going with Antiquities,” McKenna said in a speech in Washington, D.C.
Vandals who oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline smashed the windows of a local bank branch in a politically motivated attack that’s under investigation by Denver police. The vandals targeted a Chase Bank branch, throwing rocks at the windows and spray painting “No DAPL” on the front of the building, according to a police report. Anti-pipeline protesters have targeted Chase Bank and other financial institutions for having investments in the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, or for providing loans tied to the project.
The United States is already a world leader in reducing energy and industrial emissions and won’t be pressured into keeping the so-called Clean Power Plan and other regulatory policies of the Obama administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said. “We have done better than anybody in the world at growing an economy and also being a good steward of our environment,” Pruitt said in a recent interview. “We have nothing to be apologetic about.”
A “well-intentioned” statute passed in the 1970s to protect endangered species has become outdated and now poses a major hurdle to infrastructure upgrades across the country, according to the American Public Works Association (APWA). In testimony to Congress this week, the APWA warned that state and local governments have been hamstrung by regulations under the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA) when trying to upgrade highways, water treatment facilities and other kinds of public infrastructure. In some cases, “critically needed infrastructure projects are stalled or prohibited entirely because of bureaucratically-imposed processes that fail to achieve goals mandated” by the ESA, APWA President Ron Calkins said.
Research and data used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to justify new regulations would be more accessible and subject to outside scrutiny under a bill that’s moving through Congress with the support of small business leaders, manufacturers, the construction industry and other key economic sectors. The Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act of 2017 (HONEST Act) passed the U.S. House this week in a bipartisan 228-194 vote. The bill requires EPA to use “the best available science” and make sure the information relied upon is “publicly available in a manner sufficient for independent analysis and substantial reproduction of research results,” according to summary of the bill.
Oil drillers in the Bakken Shale are optimistic that the opening of the Dakota Access Pipeline – which was fiercely opposed by environmental activists and the former Obama administration – will boost new energy production in the region. Reuters reports that the pipeline will give Bakken oil producers “a shot in the arm” by providing “cheaper access to refineries and other customers on the U.S. Gulf Coast.” The operator of the pipeline – Energy Transfer Partners – has already started filling it with crude oil and it could reach full capacity by late April.
Despite the outcome of the 2016 election, the Sierra Club is leading a new charge in the nation’s capital to ban oil, natural gas and coal development on federal lands. But the reintroduction of the Keep It In the Ground Act this week has drawn attention to the first version of the bill, introduced in 2015, and an embarrassing gaffe from the Sierra Club’s president, Aaron Mair. The Sierra Club is “pushing the argument to leave it all in the ground, the argument of none-of-the-above,” Mair said during a press conference. But his comments have been largely ignored and unreported until now.