Energy industry (mostly) likes Trump directives
Trump executive orders streamlining permitting for infrastructure and manufacturing projects were widely expected, as were those that seek to advance TransCanada's Keystone XL and Energy Transfer Partners' Dakota Access crude pipelines.
But Trump said he personally insisted on adding a "buy American" directive, which gives his secretary of commerce 180 days to develop a plan ensuring that all new, retrofitted, repaired or expanded pipelines in the US use domestically-manufactured steel, parts and equipment.
"An executive order is a press release with some teeth, and the question is how much teeth is in that press release," American Gas Association chief executive Dave McCurdy said today at the US Energy Association's energy forum in Washington, DC.
McCurdy's group, which represents US natural gas utilities, lauded Trump's directive to streamline the permitting of major pipeline and other infrastructure projects. But McCurdy called Trump's directive to find ways to encourage US pipeline builders to use US-produced steel and iron "an interesting twist."
There will be "legal questions surrounding that," he said.
Trump's election as president "absolutely" made a difference for the coal industry, National Mining Association chief executive Hal Quinn said.
"On a personal note, I sleep much better," he said.
But Quinn urged the administration to "look broader at the entire supply chain" in promulgating orders, such as the American steel directive. "If you want to source more materials from the US, you have to remove the bottlenecks in getting those materials," Quinn said. US iron mines, for example, face significantly longer permitting time than counterparts in Canada and Australia, he said.
"We should take a look at what the secretary of commerce will say and whether it is practical in the broader sense," American Petroleum Institute chief executive Jack Gerard said. "We should not overreact to everything we hear right now."
Fossil fuel producers hope Trump's presidency will undo what they saw as excessive government regulations imposed under former president Barack Obama. The Trump directive requiring US agencies to repeal two rules for each new regulation is important, but only if the administration commits to it, Quinn said.
"All presidents since president [Ronald] Reagan have done a retrospective review and it has gone away after the first quarter," Quinn said. "We will see if President Trump builds in benchmarks" to monitor how his anti-regulation directives are implemented, he said.
Trump's executive orders are encouraging because they that the industry can count on the government as a partner, Gerard said.
"One thing is to announce [an executive order] and another thing is to go through the process," McCurdy said. "A recognition of where they stand is usually not enough. There have to be new regulations or legislation."