Trump promises to streamline oil, gas permitting

OREANDA-NEWS. September 23, 2016. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is vowing to fix a permitting process he says has become a "disaster" for oil and gas companies and created delays for energy infrastructure projects.

Trump today at an industry event said he would enable the construction of "billions of dollars" of infrastructure projects he said had been held up by President Barack Obama's administration. The oil and gas industry's permitting problems are due in part to issues with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), he said.

"The permitting process in your industry is a disaster. It is a disaster," Trump said at the Shale Insight conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a battleground state that could be crucial to his hopes of winning the presidency.

"Every friend I have in your industry, they tell me it has become horrible with the EPA, so we are going to take care of that," Trump said.

Trump's remarks come after an unexpected delay to Energy Transfer Partners' 470,000 b/d Dakota Access crude pipeline that has raised new concerns within the industry about obstacles to development. The Obama administration earlier this month halted construction on part of the pipeline while it completes an environmental review and studies its consultation process with Native American tribes along the project's route.

Trump today reiterated his campaign promise to "lift restrictions" on energy production in the US, by repealing regulations and opening more public land to drilling and mining. He also said he would lift the Obama administration's temporary moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands, repeal the Clean Power Plan and block other coal industry regulations he opposes.

While Trump said industry officials have complained to him about onerous federal regulations, production of oil and gas in the US has grown rapidly under Obama. Crude oil output has almost doubled since 2008 while dry natural gas production increased by more than a third, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

EPA delegates most of its responsibility for issuing air and water permits to state regulators, meaning it has little role in the day-to-day permitting of oil and gas projects. Pipelines need permits from states and other federal regulators, such as the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

EPA did not immediately respond for comment.

Oil and gas officials have held mixed feelings about Trump. They support his promises to reduce regulations but have been alarmed about comments that are contrary to industry positions. Trump on 29 July said he would support voters that wanted a local ban on hydraulic fracturing, which is something industry has spent millions working to defeat. He also suggested he would only approve the 830,000 b/d Keystone XL pipeline if he got a "better deal" for the US.

Trump today did not address those comments. But he told the conference that, "You are going to like Donald Trump" because of the jobs and economic activity he would create for the industry.