The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may reconsider its controversial 2015 ozone standard, after years of defending against bipartisan disapproval from western officials. Court documents show the EPA asking for more time in a lawsuit triggered by the 2015 ozone standard of 70 parts per billion (ppb), down from the prior benchmark of 75 ppb. EPA officials want an appeals court “to give the appropriate officials adequate time to fully review” the agency’s ozone rule, set during the Obama administration. “EPA intends to closely review the 2015 Rule, and the prior positions taken by the Agency with respect to the 2015 Rule may not necessarily reflect its ultimate conclusions after that review is complete,” the agency’s lawyers said.
A bill that would ban future oil and gas development in Nevada has passed a committee vote in a small but significant victory for California billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer. The bill, AB 159, passed the Nevada Assembly’s Natural Resources, Agriculture and Mining Committee on April 6, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal. Seven Democrats supported the bill and four Republicans opposed it in a party-line vote. The lead sponsor of the bill was one of a handful of state legislative candidates supported by Steyer in last year’s election.
Late last week, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management published a photograph of a coal seam on its homepage. The move offended “keep it in the ground” groups like Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, and before long, the photo was a national news story. To people in the West, the media reaction was puzzling. “I don’t see anything at all wrong with the picture,” Jason Small, president of Boilermakers Local #11 and a Montana state senator, told Western Wire. “As a matter of fact, I think that’s a fairly impressive seam of coal.”
The Trump White House has urged the U.S. Senate to quickly pass a number of repeal measures against last-minute Obama administration regulations, including a rule targeting oil and natural gas development on federal lands. Time is running out to strike down the Obama administration’s midnight regulations using the Congressional Review Act, White House legislative affairs director Marc Short told reporters yesterday. [T]here are several more that we hope to sign before this window closes,” he said.
A group representing county-level officials in Colorado has rejected an effort to change the siting rules for oil and natural gas development through the state legislature. The officials are also defending the existing rules, which were toughened in 2013 by state regulators. “This process works and continues to work,” Colorado Counties Inc. said in a legislative report to its members. Current regulations block drilling from taking place within 1,000 feet of school buildings. But the bill, HB 1256, would go even further, banning oil and gas drilling within 1,000 feet of a school’s property line.
The outlook for the U.S. economy would be vastly different today if environmental activists – who spent record sums trying to influence the outcome of the 2016 election – had their way, according to a new report. Adopting “keep it in the ground” restrictions on developing oil, natural gas and coal would cost 5.9 million jobs by 2040 and increase household energy expenditures by more than $4,500 a year, said the report, conducted by economics firm OnLocation Inc. and commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute.
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.