Wednesday, December 2, 2020
Dec. 2, 2020

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Trump administration eases more Obama-era oil, gas rules


BILLINGS, Mont. — The Trump administration is seeking to ease more rules for oil and gas drilling that were adopted under the Obama administration, with the latest changes projected to save energy companies more than $130 million over the next decade.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management proposal would streamline requirements for measuring and reporting oil and gas produced from federal lands.

The administration’s critics said it marks yet another instance of Trump backtracking on rules that were meant to ensure companies drill responsibly and that the public gets fairly paid for energy extracted from public lands.

Under Trump, federal agencies looking to boost domestic energy production have systematically rolled back industry restrictions — from offshore safety rules in the Gulf of Mexico, to measures to protect imperiled species and prevent greenhouse gas pollution. Many of those moves have been challenged in court.

Administration officials and industry representatives said the latest changes are meant to reduce the bureaucratic workload faced by smaller oil and gas producers. Many smaller companies have struggled to stay in business amid a drop in demand due to the coronavirus and a recent international dispute that drove down oil prices.

“This gives the oil and gas industry everything they wanted,” said Aaron Weiss with the Center for Western Priorities, a Denver-based conservation group.

“You’re leaving open the possibility that taxpayers are not going to get their fair share for oil and gas that’s being extracted.”