A “well-intentioned” statute passed in the 1970s to protect endangered species has become outdated and now poses a major hurdle to infrastructure upgrades across the country, according to the American Public Works Association (APWA).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.
Leaders of Colorado’s energy industry are warning that a recent appeals court decision in favor of anti-oil and gas activists could undermine one of the state’s most important economic sectors. The case was brought by activists, who had demanded that the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) suspend issuing permits for oil and natural gas projects unless it could be demonstrated that drilling “does not adversely impact human health and does not contribute to climate change.”
Under former president Barack Obama, federal restrictions on fossil fuels would have forced “broad and transformative changes to the electricity industry,” the American Public Power Association said. APPA represents thousands of municipal, state-owned and non-profit power companies, such as the Wyoming Municipal Power Agency and the Farmington, N.M. Electric Utility System. “[S]tates should maintain the authority to plan and implement generation and energy policies that are suitable for their circumstances,” APPA said.
The Trump White House today issued a new executive order to roll back the Obama administration’s climate agenda, including a number of regulations targeting energy producers in the West. The “energy independence” order calls for a review of the so-called Clean Power Plan, which seeks to limit the amount of coal and natural gas states use to meet their energy needs. The order also takes aim at new federal methane restrictions on oil and natural gas development, which have been criticized for overlapping and conflicting with existing state regulations. And the Trump administration plans to lift a moratorium on new coal leases that was imposed across millions of acres of federal land by the Obama administration.