Trump administration charts path to energy dominance

The U.S. government approves a pipeline to Mexico and opens a new five-year offshore lease plan up for comment.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  June 30, 2017 at 7:22 AM
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June 30 (UPI) -- U.S. government agencies said they've opened up new levers for oil and natural gas development with new pipelines, export and offshore drilling opportunities.

"We will be dominant," U.S. President Donald Trump said during an event at the nation's Department of Energy. "We will export American energy all over the world."

A pro-oil president known as a trade protectionist, the Trump administration has spent the week rolling out a series of measures centered around one theme: energy dominance.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer early this week said exports of liquefied natural gas were part of the Trump agenda for energy dominance. Trump said the Energy Department has approved more permits for LNG exports from a port terminal in Louisiana.

A special permit is needed for LNG exports to countries without a free-trade agreement and Trump has questioned legacy agreements with many U.S. trade partners. His administration, however, has initiated one-to-one arrangements, such as LNG opportunities for China.

Crude oil exports were permitted under measures enacted by Trump's predecessor.

This week, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas said there were concerns that renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement would harm the state economy. Production trends in the shale-rich state are supporting economic momentum, though bank officials said the pace of growth is slower than previous years.

This week, the U.S. State Department authorized the construction of the New Burgos pipeline, a pipeline that would cross the U.S.-Mexican border in Texas and deliver up to 108,000 barrels per day of "certain refined petroleum products."

Offshore, the U.S. Interior Department issued a request for information for a five-year lease plan that covers 10 potential leases in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and one in the Cook Inlet off the southern coast of Alaska. All U.S. offshore territory is up for review under the 45-day comment period.

"Trump just planted a big 'for sale' sign in America's oceans," Kristen Monsell, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

Walter Cruickshank, the acting director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said the request for information is the first step in a longer process and doesn't propose anything specific in terms of offshore lease areas. Monsell's group said there are already legal challenges to Trump's offshore agenda, however.

Elsewhere, though the Trump administration has moved largely in favor of oil and gas, the American Wind Energy Association seized on the extension of the "all-of-the-above" slogan of former President Barack Obama by saying renewables have a role to play in energy self-reliance.

"The golden era of American energy is now underway," the president said.

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