Executive Order Directs Federal Agencies to Reconsider Federal Initiatives Focused on Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate Change

By William J. Moltz, David J. Raphael, Sandra E. Safro, Ankur K. Tohan, Michael L. O’Neill                     

President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order on March 28, 2017, entitled “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” (“Order”), which is designed to prompt reconsideration, and in some cases revocation, of the Obama Administration’s actions to address greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.  The Order directs several federal agencies to review, and possibly withdraw, specific policy initiatives like the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) Clean Power Plan rulemaking and the U.S. Department of the Interior (“Interior”) 2015 and 2016 rules on oil and gas production on federal lands.  In addition, the Order directs the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality (“CEQ”) to rescind its 2016 final guidance document regarding the consideration of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change impacts in environmental reviews performed under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”).  More broadly, the Order also directs all federal agencies to review “all agency actions” that “potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources.”

As discussed in greater detail below, the Order may have far-reaching implications for U.S. policy on energy production, greenhouse gas regulation, and climate change that could have spillover impacts for energy infrastructure development.  A vigorous debate is certain to follow with interested stakeholders evaluating strategic options including notice and comment rulemaking, litigation, and legislative advocacy.

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