Not in Their Wildest Dreams

Dec 7, 2017

The Trump administration is granting energy industry wishes at a breakneck pace

Since taking office, the Trump administration has moved aggressively to roll back existing common sense energy policies and enact an agenda written by the oil and gas industry. A new analysis by the Center for Western Priorities finds the Trump administration and their allies in Congress have acted on at least 22 policy changes supported by energy companies and associations as of December 2017. These include efforts to remove safeguards on drilling, shut out the public from decision making, and increase drilling inside of America’s parks and wildlife refuges.

The energy industry has long been a major player in our political system. From funding candidates and lobbying to running advertisements and media campaigns, oil, gas, and coal companies have sought to eliminate some energy-related policies and advance others, often with mixed success. Now, the Trump administration has rewarded those efforts by stocking key positions in the Department of the Interior with industry players and rolling back a raft of energy policies.

The degree to which President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke have aggressively pushed to eliminate commonsense regulations and expand oil, gas, and coal development has shocked even those in the industry. As the president of the Western Energy Alliance, an oil and gas trade association, recently said, “Not in our wildest dreams, never did we expect to get everything.”

The Center for Western Priorities identified 24 policy changes within the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior favored by oil, gas, and coal industry interests, drawing from regulatory comments, lawsuits, letters, and statements. These policy recommendations were then compared to actions taken by the Department of the Interior since President Trump took office, assessing whether the supported action was complete, in progress, identified for administrative or Congressional action, or not started. See the Appendix for a summary of each policy, as well as sources for industry recommendations and administrative actions.

In the nine months since President Trump took office, the Department of the Interior has transformed from an agency balancing multiple uses on our public lands — leasing some lands for development while conserving others for future generations — to a rubber stamp for the oil, gas, and coal industries. To date, nearly all of the policy recommendations identified by energy interests have been acted on in some form. Unfortunately, the road forward for the Interior Department is clear. Under the Zinke Doctrine, the agency will cater to energy companies at all costs at the expense of our parks and public lands.

Read the report