Trump inauguration: The Trump cabinet picks who may shift US policy
President Donald Trump’s picks for his Cabinet appear to back up his campaign pledges to boost US oil and gas production and streamline infrastructure approvals.
From the longest serving Texas governor in history to the former head of ExxonMobil, the administration may ultimately become the most oil and gas-friendly in decades.
Confirmation hearings in the US Senate have been held for all of these nominees. They have yet to be confirmed by the full senate.
Here’s a look at the relevant nominees, the key issues they will likely face at the agencies they are expected to head, and the prospects for their confirmations.
Nominee: Former Texas Governor Rick Perry
Background: Perry, a former Republican presidential candidate and Texas’ governor from 2000 to 2015, has questioned the science behind climate change and previously called for eliminating the Energy Department.
In his confirmation hearing on Thursday, Perry said he had changed his mind on the importance of the work of the Energy Department and said his decisions on climate change and other issues would be guided by science.
Key Issues: If approved, Perry would be in charge of an agency which was instrumental in finalizing the Iran nuclear deal — which Trump has said he wants to scrap — manages the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve and oversees the Energy Information Administration, the government authority on energy statistics and analysis.
As head of the DOE, Perry would manage sales of millions of barrels of crude out of the SPR, which Congress has authorized over the past year, and would need to decide on roughly $2 billion in infrastructure upgrades the DOE says the government stockpile currently needs.
Confirmation prospects: Perry said Thursday he would protect the research budgets for climate science, renewable energy, fossil fuels and other programs.
He also said he supported increasing the capacity for US LNG exports as long as other federal agencies do not constrain domestic supply.
Perry declined during his confirmation hearing to say whether he supported moving the long-stalled Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository project in Nevada forward but said that, if confirmed, he would look at alternatives to address the matter.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
Nominee: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt
Background: Pruitt is a lawyer and former state senator representing the Tulsa area. Attorney general since 2011, Pruitt has taken conservative stances on social issues and sued over EPA regulations and the Affordable Care Act.
Key issues: Pruitt wants to roll back EPA regulations on the oil and gas industry, arguing the administration of outgoing President Barack Obama has overstepped its authority and that states should play a bigger role. Pruitt has criticized ethanol and called the Renewable Fuel Standard a broken system, opening the possibility he would lower the blending mandate for 2018 and beyond. He has questioned the scientific consensus on climate change, sued to block the Clean Power Plan and dismissed calls to investigate Oklahoma’s increased earthquake activity.
Confirmation prospects: In his confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Pruitt struck a more moderate tone from his previous comments. He said he would uphold the biofuel mandate and stick to annual volume increases, distancing himself from his previous criticism of the policy as “unworkable.
Nominee: Montana Representative Ryan Zinke
Background: Zinke, a retired Navy SEAL and Iraq war veteran, who won re-election to his second House term last month, is a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources.
Key Issues: If approved, Zinke would head the agency which manages US public lands and minerals and could play a major role in Trump’s expected efforts to expand drilling both on and offshore. As head of Interior, Zinke would lead the possible effort by the Trump administration to redo the Obama administration’s 2017-22 offshore drilling plan, which excluded sales in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. Zinke would also be in charge of an agency which has developed new regulations on hydraulic fracturing and methane emissions from oil and gas operations on federal lands. Zinke, a supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline, has called Interior’s methane rule “duplicative and unnecessary” and backed legislation to end the agency’s moratorium on coal leasing.
Confirmation prospects: In his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Zinke said he would review Obama’s decision to block oil and natural gas drilling in most US Arctic waters and suggested a reversal of recent national monument designations may be in the works. Zinke appeared to toe a bipartisan line throughout his hearing, claiming he was for land conservation and environmental protections on energy development and opposed to any transfer or sale of public lands.
In contrast to Trump and some other cabinet nominees, Zinke also said he did not believe climate change was a “hoax” and that human activity has had an impact on climate.
Nominee: Former ExxonMobil CEO and Chairman Rex Tillerson
Background: Tillerson joined Exxon in 1975 as a production engineer and rose through the ranks. He took the top job in 2006 and took an early retirement when his nomination was announced.
Key issues: Tillerson’s close ties to Russian leaders were scrutinized at his confirmation hearing, given Trump’s promises to have warmer relations with Moscow and in the wake of CIA findings that Russian hackers worked to sway the election in Trump’s favor. Tillerson has challenged the effectiveness of international sanctions, including those against Russian joint ventures that have cost ExxonMobil $1 billion. Tillerson is seen as a skilled negotiator who already knows the subtleties of diplomacy, and some expect him to use his personal relationships developed at ExxonMobil to improve US relations in the Middle East.
Confirmation prospects: Tillerson at his confirmation hearing said many of the things that Republican senators skeptical of his nomination to be America’s top diplomat wanted to hear: that the US should counter recent Russian aggression and that sanctions remain a powerful tool in doing so. But his tussles with Senator Marco Rubio leave a narrow element of uncertainty to his confirmation, as the Florida Republican can single-handedly block Tillerson’s nomination from reaching a vote on the full Senate floor. Tillerson resisted Rubio’s questions about Russian human rights abuses and whether he supported sanctions banning visas and freezing assets of hackers attempting to undermine US infrastructure or democracy.
By Meghan Gordon and Brian Scheid
Platts news and news analysis is independent, objective and neutral.
The post Trump inauguration: The Trump cabinet picks who may shift US policy appeared first on MINING.com.