Federal Agencies’ Assault the Oil and Natural Gas Industry

At a recent Congressional Call-Up organized by the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), participating company representatives were briefed by IPAA staff on key federal issues impacting the oil and natural gas industry.  The thrust of the briefing, which would be the nucleus of our comments delivered to members of Congress later that day, focused not on any one issue but rather the significant number of actions underway within the federal system. These actions were current agency proposals that had been listed in the Federal Register as either proposed or final and would in one way or another affect the oil and natural gas industry. The list of separate actions totaled 44. Agencies identified on the list included the Environmental Protection Agency (five separate actions), the Bureau of Land Management (nine separate actions), the Fish and Wildlife Service (ten separate actions), the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (five separate actions), the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (three separate actions) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (five separate actions).   Throw in the White House National Ocean Policy rule, the Office of Natural Resource Revenue, the Forest Service, the Security and Exchange Commission and Occupational Safety and Health Administration and we were looking at a well-planned attack on virtually every aspect of oil and natural gas planning, production and use. The proposals include both onshore and offshore requirements and cover air, water, threatened and endangered species, pipeline integrity, oil and gas transportation, hydraulic fracturing on federal lands and more.

Additionally, we understood that most, if not all, of these proposals were on a fast track to be finalized and implemented as part of the Obama Administration’s legacy of disdain for fossil fuels. While some of these individually would have a minor impact on current industry practices, others will significantly change and/or restrict how industry operates and collectively, all these actions will have a dramatic impact on the production of oil and natural gas in the United States.

Company representatives later reported that nearly all the members of Congress that were approached expressed an awareness of this late term effort by the Obama Administration, although most were surprised by the sheer number of actions underway. They acknowledged that Congressional oversight and intervention may be the only way to impact and slow some of these actions.   We are hoping for the best.

Gary Slagel, who most recently retired as the Senior Advisor of Environmental Affairs for CONSOL Energy, has joined the firm as a Government Affairs Specialist. Mr. Slagel is an engineering graduate from the University of Dayton and spent 35 years with CONSOL and CNX Gas in several capacities including Director of Environmental Regulatory Affairs and later Director of Government Affairs working on both coal and natural gas issues.
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