The Trump administration has promised significant shifts in energy and environmental policies. Already in his first week in office, the President has taken steps to move federal policy in a dramatically different direction:
Pipelines: This week the President took executive action to expedite approval of two high profile pipelines: The Keystone XL Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline. On Keystone, the President encouraged TransCanada to reapply for its cross-border permit and signaled a quick and positive response from the new administration.
Similarly, the President signed a memorandum directing agencies to move forward on the Dakota Access Pipeline, a controversial project in North Dakota that was stalled at the end of President Obama's term.
While the intent of the Trump administration is clear, there is still uncertainty around the approval timelines. For Keystone, the President indicated he wanted to renegotiate the terms of the agreement, including supporting a requirement to use American-made steel in its construction. Reworking the agreement with new conditions could slow the finalization of the project.
Regarding Dakota Access, it is not clear how the executive order will impact the environmental review previously ordered in December. Environmental impact assessments can be lengthy and controversial, which could continue to delay construction.
EPA Grants: The new EPA leadership has stopped issuing all grants, disrupting funding streams to state and local governments, researchers, and other stakeholders. The Trump team says it wants to review the projects before providing the money and hopes to complete its review by Friday, January 27.
While the Trump administration has yet to tackle the major issues that are likely to impact the energy and environment sphere such as rolling back the Clean Power Plan and other Obama era regulations, the actions taken this first week clearly preview the direction his policies will take.