Vol. 6, No. 5

Topics discussed in this week’s Report include:

  • Trump administration put rules on hold, including those in the environmental and energy arenas
  • In reversal of Obama administration, Trump administration encouraged Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects to move forward
  • Oklahoma released 2016 earthquake statistics
  • University of Alberta study alleged connection between hydraulic fracturing and organ damage in rainbow trout

Federal

Trump administration puts rules on hold, including those in the environmental and energy arenas. A Jan. 20 memorandum from Reince Priebus, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, to the heads of executive departments and agencies requested that they delay sending any regulations to the Office of Federal Register (OFR), and withdraw any regulations sent to OFR but not yet published, until reviewed and approved by the new administration. The memorandum also requested that agencies postpone by 60 days the effective date of regulations that have been published in the Federal Register but not taken effect, as permitted by applicable law. The memorandum exempted any regulations subject to statutory or court-imposed deadlines.

In reversal of Obama administration, Trump administration encourages Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects to move forward. In his first week in office, President Donald Trump signed memoranda urging the stalled Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines to move forward. With regard to Keystone XL, in November 2015, President Barack Obama’s State Department rejected TransCanada Corp.’s application for a presidential permit, which is required for a pipeline to cross the border between the United States and Canada. Trump’s first memorandum encourages TransCanada to reapply for the presidential permit and directs the State Department to conduct an expeditious review of TransCanada’s application. Two days after Trump issued his executive order, TransCanada filed its application for a presidential permit. Trump signed a second presidential memorandum directing the Army Corps of Engineers to speed up the review process of the outstanding easement needed by Energy Transfer Partners LP for the Dakota Access pipeline to proceed.

States

Oklahoma releases 2016 earthquake statistics. The Oklahoma Geological Survey announced that the state experienced 623 earthquakes of magnitude 3 or greater, which is a sharp decrease from 2015’s 903 earthquakes and more on par with the state’s 579 earthquakes in 2014. The number of earthquakes in Oklahoma has grown over the past decade, with the state asserting a possible connection between increased seismic activity and use of underground injection to dispose of wastewater from oil and gas production. Oklahoma Corporation Commission regulators have taken a number of steps to restrict underground injection over the past few years in response to the increased seismic activity.

Studies

University of Alberta study alleges connection between hydraulic fracturing and organ damage in rainbow trout. A study by researchers at the University of Alberta claims that chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process “have significant adverse effects” on rainbow trout, such as liver and gill damage. The study asserts that hydraulic fracturing chemicals can cause oxidative stress, endocrine disruption and biotransformation in fish.