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The Bureau of Land Management has a new acting director after Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke tapped Brian Steed to take over. Steed, formerly chief of staff for Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), will replace Mike Nedd, acting director for BLM since March.
A University of Wyoming researcher and the head of one of the largest trade associations in the country told a Senate committee today that air emission reductions could be achieved through technological advances, offering real world examples in research and development and company-level deployment. Experts appeared at the hearing, “Promoting American Leadership in Reducing Air Emissions Through Innovation,” before the Senate’s powerful Environment and Public Works committee.
A group of former Environmental Protection Agency lawyers sent a letter this week to Administrator Scott Pruitt, asking him to “revise” his October directive ending the agency’s “sue and settle” regulatory settlements with environmental groups. Calling the directive “unfair, unrealistic, and ultimately counterproductive,” the former EPA attorneys said it was up to the agency to avoid litigation by meeting statutory deadlines and fulfilling regulatory duties, and that Pruitt’s directive would decrease transparency.
A new database for tracking attacks and other incidents involving the nation’s energy infrastructure launched in late October, according to Energy Builders, a coalition of energy infrastructure providers. The Energy Builders’ Energy Infrastructure Incident Reporting Center (EIIRC), intended to be a warehouse for gathering publicly sourced information, independent reporting, and firsthand accounts, will be “dedicated to tracking and exposing attacks on critical energy infrastructure.”
A New Mexico Senator and national environmental groups touted the benefits of oil and gas production within the state even as they called for more regulations in a press call Thursday. The Environmental Defense Fund hosted the call, joined by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D) to announce a report the activist group said would raise revenues and decrease methane emissions.
A bipartisan bill to promote domestic energy development and reduce overlapping federal permitting processes and allow states to manage oil and gas development on federal lands within their borders passed out of the House Committee on Natural Resources Wednesday. Republican Reps. Steve Scalise (La.) and Bob Bishop (Utah), and Democrat Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Vicente González (D-Texas) jointly sponsored the “SECURE American Energy Act.” The bill would increase state primacy in the federal permitting process, among other provisions, and would “spur economic investment in federal lands” and “increase revenues to federal and state governments.”
The Bureau of Land Management’s hydraulic fracturing rule, the subject of legal wrangling by environmental and industry groups and currently under review by Trump administration officials for complete rescission, will continue to be on hold for a few more weeks. A September decision by the appeals court threw out a lower court’s determination that the BLM lacks authority to regulate fracking, moving up the possible implementation of the rule this month. But industry trade associations and four Western states asked the court to postpone vacating the lower court ruling to allow the administration to complete its rule rescission.