(CN) — Virtually all federal energy policies will be overhauled, as will “burdensome” environmental protections, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said this week in a report on how he will “streamline” domestic energy production.
The 44-page “Final Report: Review of the Department of the Interior Actions that Potentially Burden Domestic Energy” was released Wednesday. It takes broad swipes at the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, fracking regulations, Arctic oil and coal mining rules, and outlines a number of Secretarial Orders Zinke has signed or will sign.
Among the findings in the report is that the National Environmental Policy Act impedes domestic development of coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy. Accordingly, Zinke said, he has signed Secretarial Order 3358, to “establish the Executive Committee for Expedited Planning.”
The Department of Interior oversees energy development on federal lands and waters, which generates roughly $10 billion a year, according to the report. The “Energy Burdens Report” is the Interior Department's response to President Trump's Executive Order 13783. The report “outlines the Trump Administration's bold approach to achieving American energy dominance,” Zinke’s office said in a statement.
Zinke drew scrutiny this week when it was reported that a two-person company from his hometown of Whitefish, Montana, recently received a $300 million, no-bid, long-term contract to rebuild power transmission in storm-battered Puerto Rico.
His report devotes half a page of bland language to climate change, without saying anything of substance about it. But Zinke said energy development and environmental protection can be accomplished together.
“However, while conducting the review outlined in the Executive Order, we found that several costly and burdensome regulations from the past threaten that balance by hampering the production or transmission of our domestic energy,” Zinke said.
“Our public lands are meant to be managed for the benefit of the people. That means a multiple-use approach where appropriate and making sure that multiple-use includes energy development under reasonable regulations. Following President Trump’s leadership, Interior is fostering domestic energy production by streamlining permitting and revising and repealing Obama-era job killing regulations – all while doing so in an environmentally responsible way.”
The Wilderness Society blasted the report upon its release.
Nada Culver, senior counsel at the Wilderness Society, said Zinke “owes it to the American people to protect our public lands, not sell them out to energy companies without acknowledging the inevitable consequences — and its responsibility to address them.”
She continued: “This report characterizes American treasures such as national monuments, wild and scenic rivers, wildlife, water, and historic sites as burdens. We are also deeply concerned that, according to the report, the Interior Department considers input from the American public a mere impediment to this administration’s relentless push to open all of our public lands up to drilling and mining.
“Public engagement is essential for government accountability and oversight, not to mention fundamental to our participatory democracy.”