Oil and gas industry fears Trump’s deregulation campaign may backfire

BuzzFeed reports: President Donald Trump’s aggressive drive to roll back environmental regulations is moving too fast even for some in the oil and gas industry.

Publicly, petroleum companies and their trade groups are cheering Trump’s efforts to undo former President Barack Obama’s environmental regulations, including restrictions on fracking-related pollution, pipeline permits and offshore drilling. But quietly, people in the industry are growing worried that deregulation could backfire on them, according to interviews with a dozen executives, lobbyists, lawyers and analysts.

Among their fears: Laxer rules could set the stage for an environmental disaster like 2010’s BP oil spill in the Gulf, which blackened the industry’s reputation and spurred a regulatory clampdown.

“Every industry wants regulations that make sense, but you don’t need to roll things back so far that it opens an opportunity for outsiders to criticize, or something bad happens,” said Brian Youngberg, an energy analyst at the investment firm Edward Jones.

A person at one oil and gas company expressed similar worries. “It’s not helpful if regulations are streamlined so as to allow something to happen — say, a methane explosion or a spill — and we’d be painted with it as an entire industry,” said the person, who requested anonymity to speak freely.

In addition, some large companies that have already spent money to comply with Obama-era regulations fear being undercut by unscrupulous competitors if the Trump administration reverses those rules. And an industry that prizes regulatory certainty is uneasy with Trump’s efforts to renegotiate lucrative trade deals like NAFTA and reorganize the agencies responsible for overseeing offshore drilling. [Continue reading…]

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