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What A Difference An Election Makes – World Oil Magazine

APRIL 2017 ///Vol 238 No. 4

FEATURES

What a difference an election makes

The upstream oil and gas regulatory structure has been turned upside-down on the federal level, and what was once thought nearly impossible, in terms of certain projects, now seems far more likely.

David Blackmon, Contributing Editor

A Clinton administration would have meant increasingly heavy-handed efforts to control every aspect of the oil and gas development process from Washington D.C.; more stringent emissions requirements; a rapidly-expanding bureaucracy at the EPA—especially in the area of water enforcement in the wake of the implementation of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) regulations; rapidly rising regulatory costs; and more and more withdrawals of federal lands and waters from the realm of oil and gas leasing. Even to those of us who believed that Donald Trump had at least an even chance to win, the conventional wisdom dictated that the best advice was to prepare for a Clinton administration while hoping for a big surprise to take place on Nov. 8.

Lo and behold, the big surprise came about, and the whole world of federal regulation of the oil and gas industry has been turned on its head. Upon assuming office in 2009, and embarking immediately on his campaign to vastly increase the federal bureaucracy and regulatory reach, Barack Obama famously said, “Elections matter.” That statement was completely true then, and it remains true today.

Let’s take a look at some of the many ways that this election matters in the realm of regulatory policy toward the oil and gas industry.

LET THE PIPELINES BE BUILT

Just four days after he assumed the office of the presidency, Donald Trump demonstrated conclusively that his proposed “America First Energy Plan” was more than just campaign rhetoric, as he signed executive orders designed to ensure the completion of two major oil pipelines—Keystone XL and Dakota Access—that had been held up for purely political considerations by former President Obama.

Keystone XL. The President’s order on Keystone XL invited the operator, TransCanada, to re-apply for its cross-border permit, and directed the U.S. State Department to “take all actions necessary and appropriate to facilitate its expeditious review.” The order further gave the State Department 60 days, from receipt of TransCanada’s new application, to issue a final decision.

That’s all very positive, and after suffering through six years of delays lacking much, if any, merit from the Obama administration, it no doubt seemed like a breath of fresh air to the company’s executives. Indeed, the company confirmed, later that same day, that it had already begun preparing its new permit application. That application was submitted several days later, and the State Department approved it in late March.

While some conflict groups continue to mount court challenges to the pipeline, and various state-level approvals will still need to be obtained by Trans-Canada, there is no doubt that the November election completely changed the equation related to this important pipeline project.

Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The President’s order on DAPL (Fig. 1) was directed not to Energy Transfer Partners, the builder of the pipeline, but to the Army, ordering the Corps of Engineers to “take all actions necessary and appropriate,” to conduct this review and approve the pipeline “in an expedited manner… to the extent permitted by law and as warranted.” Within a few weeks, the Army responded affirmatively, withdrawing its requirement for conducting a full environmental impact study, which the Obama administration had forced in December for political reasons, and issuing the final easement necessary to allow the line’s final segment to move ahead to completion.

Fig. 1. The Dakota Access Pipeline is now a reality, after being held up for months on end. Photo:  Energy Transfer.

Fig. 1. The Dakota Access Pipeline is now a reality, after being held up for months on end. Photo: Energy Transfer.

That all had taken place by mid-February, and the completion of the final segment of the pipeline took less than a month, after having been held up for a half-year by the political machinations of the Obama administration in support of an often-violent and destructive protest action. Oil began flowing through the DAPL a week after a U.S. Court of Appeals rejected an appeal by the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes on March 18.

All of which proves that, despite all information to the contrary, the federal government can move pretty rapidly when it is motivated to do so.

WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES REGULATION

When I last wrote about this atrocious expansion of the EPA’s regulatory reach (Fig. 2) under the auspices of the Clean Water Act in 2016, it had suffered an adverse decision in a federal district court, which had issued a nationwide injunction, prohibiting the EPA from moving ahead with its enforcement. The rule was still awaiting a hearing before an appellate court when President Trump assumed office on Jan. 20.

Fig. 2. The WOTUS went too far in defining what would be covered by the Clean Water Act, as exemplified by this stream and wetlands rendering.  Source:  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Fig. 2. The WOTUS went too far in defining what would be covered by the Clean Water Act, as exemplified by this stream and wetlands rendering. Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

On Feb. 28, the President issued an Executive Order, directing his EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt—who, as Oklahoma’s attorney general, had filed the lawsuit that resulted in the injunction on this rule—along with the Army Corps of Engineers, which also has jurisdiction to a lesser extent, to conduct a review of the rule and issue a revised rule that would bring it in line with the language of the Clean Water Act.

A key piece of this order, as NPR points out, is that:

Trump said that in any future proposed rule, the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should consider Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion in a 2006 Supreme Court ruling, which focused on the scope of the Clean Water Act. In that case, Scalia stated that the “waters of the United States” are limited to “only relatively permanent, standing or flowing bodies of water.” He added: “The phrase does not include channels through which water flows intermittently or ephemerally, or channels that periodically provide drainage for rainfall.”

An adherence to this guidance from the President would result inevitably in a dramatically scaled-back regulation which, in its proposed form, would effectively give the EPA and Corps the right to exert federal authority over pretty much any body of water, no matter how small, man-made, ephemeral or temporary it might be, in the entire country. At that point, the rule truly would become what EPA, in its initial talking points on the matter, claimed it was: a rule largely intended to clarify jurisdictions between the EPA, Corps of Engineers and state regulators in specific circumstances. Heck, it could even turn out to be a regulation worth the industry’s support.

EXPANDED FEDERAL LEASE SALES

On March 6, the Interior Department announced that it would hold, on Aug. 16, a regionwide lease sale, which will include all available unleased areas in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Although most acreage within 125 mi of the Florida coast remains off-limits through 2022, the proposed Lease Sale 249 will include blocks in waters adjacent to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. All told, more than 73 million federal acres will be offered in the sale.

“Opening more federal lands and waters to oil and gas drilling is a pillar of President Trump’s plan to make the U.S. more energy independent,” said Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, “The Gulf is a vital part of that strategy, to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

The Trump administration also promises that expanded onshore lease sales related to federal lands will follow in the near future, as a part of its America First Energy Plan.

ONRR ROYALTY VALUATION REGULATIONS

Another controversial last-minute act by the out-going Obama administration was the effort by the Office of Natural Resource Revenue (ONRR) to change the valuation requirements for royalty payments related to oil and natural gas produced from federal lands.

The regulations would essentially require lessees to value federal royalties on the same basis as they value Indian royalties. The problem here is that Indian leases contain provisions—the so-called “major portion” and “dual-accounting” clauses—that enable Indian lessors to collect royalties on a higher valuation standard than the federal government can demand from its leases, which lack these important clauses. Thus, this new ONRR regulation is a clear violation of federal lease terms.

The regulation went into effect on Jan. 1, but it was suspended by the Department of Interior on Feb. 24, due to concerns that the rule is, indeed, inconsistent with federal lease terms and would likely run into trouble in the federal courts, where it has been challenged by various industry groups.

The rule also had run into serious pushback from congressional Republicans. House Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) issued the following statement upon learning of DOI’s decision to suspend the rule:

“The Trump administration made the right decision to suspend this illogical and legally dubious rule. It is already causing uncertainty for future investment and development on federal and tribal lands, and increasing electricity rates for rural communities, including those in my district. The next step is to do so permanently, and avoid Congress having to do it for them.”

A permanent pulling of the rule would, indeed, be an ideal final solution, but this temporary suspension is a good start, and yet another bit of proof that, as President Obama said, elections really do matter. wo-box_blue.gif

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Today’s Campaign Update (Because The Campaign Never Ends) – 5.9.2017

  • This is what university progressives refer to as “compassion.”:  Emory University in Georgia now has a policy of paying all tuition and living expenses for its illegal alien students.  American citizens, and students who took the time to immigrate into this country through the legal process, must of course pay their own full load, and will no doubt see their already exorbitant tuition and fees raised as the school passes along the costs of its illegal students.  Trump Derangement Syndrome in action.
  • Meanwhile, in Australia…:  Australia’s Labor Party has now been branded ‘racist’ by that country’s own fake news media for running an ad that advocates “Employ Australians First.”  I swear I don’t make this stuff up.
  • They’re calling it Creepy Old White Guy.:  The Dairy Department at Cornell University announced it has created a special flavor in honor of former Vice President Joe Biden.  I’ll let you imagine the rest.
  • These Californians crack me up.:  The Sacramento Bee is carrying a story this morning which hilariously claims that “California may end ban on communists in government jobs.”  So all those closeted commies who have infested the state’s government for the last 80 years will soon be able to hold their coming out ceremonies.
  • Meanwhile, in other fake news…:  The Associated Press has a current story up with the following headline:  “TRUMP MOVES TO GET MORE CONSERVATIVES ON FEDERAL BENCH.”  It’s important to note that, at no time during the 8 years of Barack Obama or the 8 years of Bill Clinton did the AP run a story headlined “(CLINTON/OBAMA) MOVES TO GET MORE PROGRESSIVES/COMMUNISTS/RADICALS ON THE FEDERAL BENCH.”  #Fakenews, defined.
  • Asking the question we have all been breathlessly contemplating ourselves.:  Random House announced that novelist Curtis Sittenfeld will pen a novel imagining the life The Most Corrupt Woman In America might have had if she hadn’t married Bill Clinton.  Folks, if Hillary had never married Bill, none of us would have ever heard of her. Sorry, but that’s the truth.  Come to think of it, no one outside of Arkansas would have ever heard of Bill, either, since he would have in that case lacked his ruthless shield for all those Bimbo Eruptions.  So, if Mr. Sittenfeld gets it right – which he most assuredly will not – the novel will have a very, very happy ending for all Americans, but especially for Democrats, whose political party the Clintons, along with the Obamas, have done so much to destroy.
  • He never really thought he’d go back into politics.  Well, except for when he thought about going back into politics.  Which was pretty much all the damn time.:  Terminally annoying Ohio Gov. John Kasich – whose dad, in case you hadn’t heard, was a postal worker – refused to tell an interviewer on Monday whether or not he was planning to primary Donald Trump for the GOP nomination in 2020 (he is).  Gov. Kasich, who has spent every waking moment of his adult life – and most of his dream time – thinking about nothing but politics, hilariously said, ” I’m going to keep a voice, but I can’t predict to you — I never thought I would be governor, I never thought I’d go back into politics.”  So, hey, all you Republicans out there, lying about politics is not just a habit of Democrats.
  • Oh, yeah, and a Senate committee took testimony from the incessantly hyper-partisan Sally what’s-her-name and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and learned that there is still no evidence whatsoever of any collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign.  We can count on today’s fake news media/Democrat joint talking points to pretend otherwise.

Just another day in Why Can’t John Kasich and the Clintons Just Go Away and Leave Us All Alone America.

That is all, thank goodness.

 

Photo credit:  Gatewaypundit.com

 

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Today’s Campaign Update (Because The Campaign Never Ends) – 5.8.2017

  • I love the sound of Sierra Club wails in the evening.:  Those loud explosions you heard Friday evening weren’t North Korean rockets going up in flames a few seconds after liftoff; they were the sounds of heads exploding all around the nation’s Climate Fraud Lobby, after the Trump Administration got rid of fully half of the political hacks who had occupied seats on an EPA “Scientific Review Board”.  EPA has in the past filled such panels with political fellow travelers, many of them “scientists” who themselves receive mucho dinero in federal grants to “research” climate-related issues, and thus are little more than rubber stamps for anything EPA wants to do.  Given that their entire climate scam is based on EPA actions and endorsements, the Climate Fraud Lobby is mightily upset at the prospect of having those seats replaced by people who might actually question some EPA regulatory priorities.  Go figure.
  • Uh, would you care to revise and extend those remarks, Congressman?:  Idaho Republican congressman Raul Labrador told a townhall audience over the weekend that “nobody dies because they don’t have access to healthcare,” which, in a year in which unbelievably stupid utterances from Democrat public officials has become more the norm than the exceptions, may well be the single most unbelievably stupid utterance of all.
  • They love her, they really, really love her!:  Speaking of Democrat public officials who regularly say incredibly stupid things, California Cong. Maxine Waters got herself a standing ovation when she was introduced to the audience at the MTV Movie and Television Awards.  Which, given that the average IQ in that audience is approximately the same as the average parakeet, is completely appropriate.
  • Speaking of people with low IQs, residents of Islamic terrorism-ravaged Paris cast 90% of their votes in Sunday’s presidential elections for a guy who is famous for saying that “there is no such thing as ‘French culture.'”  And so, soon, there won’t be.
  • Don’t put your money where SJWs are allowed to run amok.:  Enrollment at the University of Missouri continues to implode, with latest figures showing that freshmen enrollment for the 2016/17 session off by more than 35% in the two years since the massive campus protests in 2015, and the feckless handling of campus social justice warriors by school officials.  Heat Street also reports that contributions from alumni and athletics boosters to the school have plummeted, with giving to the athletics department down by a whopping 62%.  Hopefully, this will become a national trend.
  • Reliance on the public’s stupidity has its limits.:  Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber, who famously admitted to a congressional committee that the only way he and Barack Obama were able to sell the monstrosity was due to “the stupidity of the American public”, appeared on Fox News Sunday to debate Karl Rove on the Republican reform bill that was passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday.  Predictably, things did not go well for Mr. Gruber, as Rove yanked out his trusty white board and refuted every lie Gruber had told.  In case you missed it, there’s a clip at this link.  Good stuff.
  • They love him, they really, real…oh wait, no, they still hate him.:  Now that Obamacare reform has passed the House, the fake news media is turning its attention to the Senate, desperate to find some way to kill the effort there.  One tactic they’ll try early is fawning over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, portraying him as the “cool head” who will stop the wild man Trump in his tracks.  A great example of this tactic is this piece in The Atlantic, which carries the headline “There’s Something About Mitch.”  One thing the fake media will find out quickly about Mitch is that he’s pretty much impervious to this sort of cajoling exercise, especially coming from fake news outlets that have never previously had a positive word to say about him.  So this little honeymoon period for Mitch won’t last very long, and the inevitable demonization exercise will begin shortly.  Because that’s what the fake news media does.

Just another day in wailing Sierra Club America.

That is all.

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Today’s Campaign Update (Because The Campaign Never Ends) – 5.6.2017

  • Sen. Rand Paul announced that he has filed requests with U.S. intelligence agencies and the White House to determine if he was also subject to surveillance while running for president by the Obama Administration.  Given that we now know that the NSA alone abided by more than 2000 requests by Obama officials to unmask Americans during 2016, wouldn’t it be quicker for our intel agencies to simply reveal which GOP presidential candidates were not subjected to this kind of surveillance?
  • The evil minions at Facebook announced the social media giant now plans to begin rolling out its own set of “TV-like” programs.  No word if its offerings will include a series named “I’m checking in from Starbucks to get my mocha-soy-frappa-latte now!”, or a Food Channel look-alike series titled “I’m having pulled-pork tacos for supper.  Yum!”, but it would seem pretty likely.
  • BBC reports that France’s new law banning “extremely thin” models has now gone into effect, which I guess means that no models from Venezuela will be able to get into France anymore, given that socialism has resulted in the starving population there having lost an average of 19 pounds in the last year.
  • Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. must be proud.:  Minnesota is currently facing an outbreak of measles, causing anti-vaxxers to leave the state en masse, since their work there now appears to be done.
  • RFK, Jr. thinks its a great substitute for the MMR vaccine.:  The Telegraph reports that scientists have now determined that eating boogers is good for your health, which came as great news in Venezuela.  I swear I don’t make this stuff up, folks.
  • This is why I feel stronger after stubbing my toe.:  In other study news, a professor at England’s Keele University has determined that shouting cusswords can make you stronger.  Which, if true, definitely means that Stephen Colbert is the strongest host on late night television.
  • They took a wrong turn in Albuquerque.:  KHOU in Houston reports that 395 migratory birds were found dead in downtown Galveston after their flock crashed into the American National Insurance high-rise office building.  I’m setting the over/under on progressives using this as a reason to ban skyscrapers at 28 hours.
  • It’s a cardinal sin at CNN.:  We had big news on Friday when CNN’s fake news anchor Jake Tapper actually told his viewers the truth about the myriad lies Democrats used to sell the collapsing Obamacare system to the public, stating that “The way that [Obamacare] was sold to the American people was in many ways mendacious.”  No word yet on when Mr. Tapper will be fired by his fake news masters at the nation’s fakiest fakey fake news outlet.
  • They still give Hillary an 85% chance of winning.:  The “experts” at the Cook Political Report solemnly announced on Friday that they now see better outlooks in the 2018 mid-term elections for Democrat challengers in 20 congressional seats currently held by Republicans after Thursday’s vote to repeal and replace Obamacare.  This would be the same “experts” at the Cook Report who completely whiffed on every aspect of the 2016 election campaign.  Republicans everywhere should be cheering.

Just another day in spying on everybody who eats boogers and doesn’t get vaccinated America.

That is all.

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Today’s Campaign Update (Because The Campaign Never Ends) – 5.5.2017

  • Republicans in the House of Representatives actually managed to achieve something of significance, passing a bill that would revamp the collapsing Obamacare system, hopefully in ways that make it something that’s actually workable.  After the vote, they paid the Democrats back for the rub-it-in celebration they held earlier in the week following the vote on the atrocity of a spending bill with a rub-it-in session of their own at the White House.  Which is fine, since rubbing it in on your opponent is perhaps the longest-standing tradition in American politics.
  • Democrats on the House floor pretended to be happy at the vote, chanting “na-na-hey-hey-goodbye” at Republicans as they left the chamber, implying that the vote would harm their chances for re-election.  But no one believed they were happy to see the successful first step of reversing their socialist power grab of 1/6th of the national economy.  Afterwards, they did what Democrats always do when faced with adversity:  They ran to their agents in the fake news media and lied in unison about what the bill does and does not do.  Don’t be angry at them – it’s all they got.
  • It’s important to note that the only reason the GOP was able to secure enough votes to pass this bill was due to weeks of tireless pressuring, arm-twisting and cajoling by President Donald Trump.  I laughed out loud when I heard one Democrat toady on radio say “well, that’s the kind of thing that Barack Obama wouldn’t do, because he found it beneath him.”  Note to nitwit:  that’s why Obamacare was the one and only major legislative achievement of the entire Obama Administration.
  • That is an important point to remember, because Barack Obama’s refusal to “lower” himself to participate in the give and take of making legislation and passing his priorities into law is the main reason why his “legacy”, such as it is, has been so easy for Donald Trump and a Republican congress to erase.  Mr. Obama chose to govern by executive order and massive regulatory expansion, rather than trying to make his policies permanent features of law.  As we have seen with the Republicans’  halting efforts on Obamacare, it is far harder to reverse a statute than it is to rescind an executive order or rewrite a bad regulation.
  • It is this lack of permanence, lack of real foundations in the law that is one of the major reasons why Democrats and their collaborating fake news media responded so desperately and viciously to the election of President Trump, and why they go to such lengths to mis-inform the public about what he is and isn’t doing.
  • But it isn’t working.  Despite the daily faking of the news by 95% of the national news media, the Obama legacy is slowly but surely vanishing before our eyes.  In fact, it really hasn’t been very slow, has it?
  • One more thing to note about all of this before I call it good.  Donald Trump has repeatedly stated that it is not an accident that Obamacare is collapsing this year, and that it was in fact designed to do so.  Democrats and their fake journalist collaborators pooh-pooh that notion in response, but it is in fact the truth.  Obamacare was never designed as a permanent program:  it was intentionally designed to produce shortages of service, massively higher premiums, and to run insurers out of the market and out of business, generating a crisis point early in the first term of Obama’s successor.  The plan, of course, was for The Most Corrupt Woman in America to be his successor, so that she could then, in response to the crisis Obamacare had created, tell the nation that our only course would be to implement the Canadian-style single-payer nationalization of medical care she and the Democrat Party have had as their ultimate goal for the last half-century.
  • But the voters tossed a monkey-wrench into that grand plan last November.  If you wonder why all your progressive friends have gone stark raving mad since the early morning of November 9, well, now you know.

Just another day in vanishing Obama legacy America.

That is all.

 

Photo credit:  royallifenews.com

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Today’s Campaign Update (Because The Campaign Never Ends) – 5.4.2017

  • Here, Director, have some Pepto Bismol.  Or Mylanta.  Or hey, how about this nice Abilify?:  Our bi-polar FBI Director, James Comey, gave testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday.  He gave one of the most tortured, twisted and improbable explanations imaginable about why he chose to insert himself into the presidential election campaign not once, not twice, but three times, at one point plaintively saying that he felt “mildly nauseous (sic)” that his actions might have influenced the outcome.  Well, boo-hoo, Director.  The truth is, Mr. Comey’s bout with nausea can be traced to his making the wrong decision back in July to let The Most Corrupt Woman in America off the hook for the myriad violations of law he himself described to the American public in the statement he made.  Everything that took place after that was simply an extension of his refusal to enforce the law against a high-profile member of the ruling class.  Self-inflicted wounds.
  • Seriously, how does this clown keep his job?:  Also during his testimony, our upset-stomached FBI Director admitted that The Most Corrupt Woman’s long-time companion, Huma Abedin, was freaking forwarding freaking classified freaking emails to her pedophile freaking pervert husband, Anthony freaking Weiner!  Not just a few freaking emails, mind you, but, according to Director Nausea, THOUSANDS OF FREAKING CLASSIFIED FREAKING EMAILS.  Naturally, upon finding out about this astonishing violation of the Espionage Act and no telling how many other federal statutes, our intrepid Bi-Polar, nauseated FBI Director decided to do….nothing.  Honest to God, nothing.
  • Knock me over with a feather.:  A study out of Germany indicates that fully 92% of so-called “anti-fascist”, i.e., FASCIST, protesters in that country are unemployed millennial “men”, i.e., CHILDREN, who still live with their mothers.  No, really,  I swear I did not make that up.  Here’s the link.  By the way, if this surprises you, and if you don’t think a study conducted in the U.S. would produce a very similar result, you are a moron.  No really, I swear, you are.
  • Watching “Key Largo” also upset her because there weren’t any large people in it.:  Rebecca Theodore, a fake film reviewer for the NY Times and Entertainment Weekly, issued a tweet yesterday in which she noted that her magazine’s cover photo of the cast of the new re-make of “Orient Express”, doesn’t include “any Asian people.”  Really, folks, I swear to you that I. Do. Not. Make. This. Stuff. Up.  I mean, who could?

Just another day in bi-polar, mildly nauseous (sic), no-Asians-on-the-Orient-Express America.

That is all.

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