Since the Trump Administration took office, oil and gas industry stakeholders have questioned whether pending PHMSA rulemakings will move forward, whether the rate of PHMSA enforcement will continue, and whether agency priorities will change. The API conference held in San Antonio last week provided a rare opportunity in recent months for the industry to hear from key PHMSA personnel and industry practitioners on the status of agency priorities, rulemakings, enforcement and leadership vacancies. As explained below, while the Agency currently lacks key leadership positions and is analyzing executive directives on rulemaking, it intends to move forward with proposed rules and continue enforcement.
Last December, PHMSA issued an interim final rule (IFR) to establish—for the first time ever—minimum federal standards for underground natural gas storage facilities. The IFR imposes significant new requirements in a short timeframe for “downhole facilities,” including wells, wellbore tubing and casings at underground natural gas storage facilities. Those rules became effective in late January and most recently, PHMSA finalized user fees to fund a training program for inspectors with oversight of underground storage facilities and other guidance materials. While PHMSA moves forward in regulating these facilities, the State of Texas, INGAA, and AGA have challenged the rule and commenters have criticized the rule as rushed, poorly drafted, and unrealistic. Continue Reading Underground Natural Gas Storage: Regulations and Fees Move Forward Despite Appeal and Criticism
President Trump signed an Executive Order requiring EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review the final “Clean Water Rule,” also known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule. The Order requires that the review ensure that the WOTUS Rule is consistent with a new policy to keep the Nation’s navigable waters free from pollution “while at the same time promoting economic growth, minimizing regulatory uncertainty, and showing due regard for the roles played by Congress and the States under the Constitution.” Although implementation of the Rule was stayed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit pending further court review, the Executive Order also requires EPA and the Corps to review all orders, rules, regulations, guidelines, or policies implementing the Rule and to revise or rescind such rules consistent with the Executive Order. Continue Reading Trump Order Compels EPA and Corps Review of Waters of the US Rule
On Friday, February 24, 2017, President Trump signed another Executive Order (EO) aimed at identifying and eliminating federal regulations that burden businesses. The EO states that “[i]t is the policy of the United States to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people.” Continue Reading Executive Order Focuses on Deregulation
During the campaign, President Trump promised to remove two regulations for every new one enacted. On Monday, January 30, 2017, he sought to make good on that promise by signing an Executive Order (EO), titled Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs. Continue Reading Agencies Instructed to Withdraw 2 Regulations for Every 1 Proposed in Executive Order