A few steps forward for energy policy?

the advocateThe Advocate | December 1, 2016  | Editorial Board

While the shape of the new administration in Washington is still in flux, there is hope that President-elect Donald Trump will be more supportive of the energy industry.

As much as the oil and gas producers might want to see a renaissance for the industry, prices will matter much more than energy policy. The laws of supply and demand will have more sway over Louisiana’s energy future for the next few years than any laws Trump or Congress might advance.

But what can Trump do in energy that will make a difference?

“He promises to pump more oil and gas, restore the coal industry, and roll back regulations, but those claims are not rooted in any plan for how to achieve them,” analyst David Victor wrote for The Brookings Institution. “In my lifetime, no one has ever become president after having said so little about what they would actually do with the reins of power.”

That last observation probably covers a number of areas where Trump slogans will have to be translated into Trump policy.

But where Trump probably can be counted on is some rollback of President Barack Obama’s energy policies, at least those that are not in the statute books; laws are much harder to change, even in a GOP-dominated Congress.

The current administration, with but weeks to live, presented a five-year offshore drilling plan that blocks the sale of new oil and gas drilling rights in the Chuckchi and Beaufort seas north of Alaska. The plan does allow some drilling in the Cook Inlet, southwest of Anchorage.

This seems like a prospect for a Trump rewrite, obviously, but like so much else in government, change does not necessarily come fast. Amendments to the five-year plan will have to be drafted and go through a rule-making process, at the least.

Similarly, the five-year plan — focusing drilling on the Gulf of Mexico — continues to block leasing off the Atlantic coast of the U.S.

Even Obama had recognized the wisdom of Atlantic Coast drilling, but the tentative steps the then-new president made toward leasing were overtaken by the Deepwater Horizon disaster off Louisiana’s coast in 2010.

Read the full op-ed here.

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