During President Obama’s tenure, he enshrined climate change as a major focus for federal regulatory agencies. For example, he ordered national security agencies to ensure they are prepared for climate impacts and he required that climate impacts must be considered as a part of any federal permitting decision. Pres. Trump revoked all those efforts with the stroke of a pen. As a result, some oil and gas permitting decisions will surely be simplified without the somewhat academic effort of trying to quantify indirect climate impacts. Pres. Trump’s order also instructed agencies to begin to roll back recent oil and gas regulations for methane emissions and hydraulic fracturing on federal lands.
There is no doubt the new order is aimed primarily at restoring coal industry jobs, but there are many reasons to think the order may benefit natural gas even more. Most American coal companies have said that they do not expect utilities to suddenly reinvest in coal because of this order. Plus, coal projects are being shut down around the world. The order may slow some of the push for utilities to switch from coal to renewables. In most situations, though, natural gas is going to be the cheapest option and utilities will likely gravitate towards natural gas over coal. Natural gas transmission infrastructure is also improving, and the new pipelines are expected to combine with new demand to boost production in the Marcellus region.
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