President Obama has issued a new Executive Order requiring a host of federal agencies to coordinate efforts to oversee natural gas development. The new working group will be headed by White House Energy Advisor Heather Zichal, and will include representatives from a dozen federal agencies, including the Departments of the Interior, Transportation and Energy, as well as a representative from the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
The order comes as industry criticism of federal agencies continues to increase as duplicative and excessive regulation threaten to stymie a natural gas boom that the President has stated is vital to the security of the nation.
Jack Gerrard, President and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, welcomed the formation of the group and hoped that this would be the beginning of efforts to rein in the activities of the various agencies which are resulting in often unnecessary and overlapping regulation. Dave McCurdy, CEO of the American Gas Association, hoped the group would help promote consistency among the various agencies.
Regardless of the new announcement, it is anticipated that highly stringent new USEPA rules regarding air emissions from hydraulic fracturing and Interior Department rules regarding natural gas drilling on public lands will be issued in the coming weeks again bringing into question the position of the administration with regard to development of natural gas in the United States and the balance it is trying to strike between development and environmental protection.
Click here to read the Executive Order