Authors: Jamie Auslander, Peter Schaumberg, John Cossa
Beveridge & Diamond, P.C. , March 29, 2017
New Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke wasted no time implementing the mandates of the Trump Administration’s most recent Executive Order (EO) , “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth,” which was issued on March 28. For a summary of that EO, click here . On March 29, the Secretary issued two Secretarial Orders (SO) implementing the March 28 Order, and took additional administrative action consistent with its mandates. Separately, the Secretary has reinstated a public-private advisory committee to address royalty issues.
The first Order, SO 3348 , overturns the Obama Administration’s 2016 moratorium on federal coal leasing, and terminates the programmatic environmental impact statement process under National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that would have re-evaluated the environmental impacts of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) coal leasing program. Hours after this SO was issued, a coalition of environmental groups sued the Department in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana challenging the decision to lift the moratorium and resume federal coal leasing without first completing the NEPA process.
The second Order, SO 3349 , implements the agency review provisions of the March 28 EO directed to the Department of the Interior. Specifically, SO 3349:
The SO affords the Interior agencies little time to accomplish this work. Deadlines fall within the next 90 days, including as soon as 14 days.
Finally, Secretary Zinke signed a charter re-establishing a Royalty Policy Committee (RPC). As it had done in prior years, the RPC will operate as a Federal Advisory Committee Act body providing regular advice to the Secretary on fair market value and collection of revenue from federal and Indian mineral and energy leases, including renewable energy leases. The group will consist of up to 28 federal, local, Tribal, state, and other stakeholders, and will also advise on royalty-related regulatory matters.
Beveridge & Diamond’s Natural Resources & Project Development practice counsels clients on the issues addressed in the March 28 Executive Order and implementing actions like the March 29 Secretarial Orders, including representing clients in litigation. For more information on how these regulatory and policy developments may impact your business, please contact the authors or your usual Beveridge & Diamond contact.