Lame Duck Regulations Target Mining and Drilling

Dec 23, 2016  | 3 min  | Ep4218

the 44th president is enacting policies some have referred to as “tacks in the road” hindering the 45th president from keeping his promise of unleashing the nation's energy reserves that are currently out of reach.

Josh Buettner has the details.


Continuing a slew of environmental regulatory moves in its waning days, the Obama administration added further steps this week to safeguard against unintended side effects of fossil fuel excavation.

A buffer zone blocking coal mining operations from within 100 feet of waterways was declared - with the goal of protecting 6000 miles of streams and 52,000 acres of forests from contamination by unearthed debris.  The rule also would require companies to restore affected streams and land areas to conditions similar to those present before mining took place – including replanting native trees and vegetation.

Mining industry advocates and coal state politicians on both sides of the aisle denounced the measures as job-killers, but Interior Department officials claim fewer than 300 jobs would be lost when the update to early 1980’s requirements takes effect next month.  North Dakota’s Attorney General took steps to block implementation in the Peace Garden State, calling the effort “the epitome of a midnight regulation.”  A majority vote in Congress could reject the guidelines nationwide, and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said he will use every tool available toward such an effort.

Last week, federal agencies also denied a Minnesota mining company’s request to renew a mineral lease near the state’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, triggering a review process which could bar all new mining activities in the region for 20 years.  The area sits atop potentially lucrative untapped deposits of copper, nickel and other valuable elements.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau/Canada: “Canadians know that strong action on the environment is good for the economy.”

In conjunction with Canada’s Prime Minister, the president rounded out his environmental push this week by declaring the bulk of U.S.-owned waters in the Arctic and certain areas of the Atlantic Ocean indefinitely off-limits to future oil and gas leasing.  However, the American Petroleum Institute, a trade association representing the nation’s oil and natural gas producers, argued there is no such thing as a permanent ban - citing President George W. Bush’s 2008 use of a simple memorandum to overturn any restrictions.

Existing leases are not affected by the president’s executive actions, but White House officials remain confident that by employing an arcane provision of 1950’s era law, Obama’s statute provides no authority for subsequent presidents to undo his final orders.

For Market to Market, I’m Josh Buettner.


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