As a general rule, a divided federal government is the best kind of federal government where the oil and gas industry is concerned. This is an industry that places a high degree of importance on regulatory and statutory certainty, and a divided government tends to result in a slower pace of change in these areas.
The unified, Republican-controlled government of the past two years produced a rapid pace of change, though much of it has actually been favorable for the industry, as the Trump Administration has gone about revising and repealing a raft of Obama-era actions. But that work is now mostly done, although the ultimate resolution for the EPA's Waters of the United States rule and various methane-related measures at EPA and the Department of the Interior remain somewhat up in the air for now.
Congress was able to agree to include energy-related provisions in its omnibus spending bill last December, but has done little related to energy since. The lame duck session of the current 115th congress that will convene for four weeks between now and December 31 will have to try to deal with a broad range of potential legislation, as the GOP majorities will likely try to cram in as much as they can before they give way to the 116th congress in January.Continue reading by clicking here.
Most crucial for oil and gas is the FY 2019 appropriations bill for the Departments of Interior and Energy, which was extended through December 7 as part of the "mini-bus" appropriations bill passed at the end of September. DOI and DOE, together with the EPA, do the most to regulate oil and gas activities at the federal level, and the appropriations bill always impacts how their actions will be carried out in the coming year. The lame duck session will also most likely pass the annual "tax extenders" legislation that includes a few oil and gas-related provisions. This bill also includes provisions related to biofuels and other renewable energy sources and typically attracts broad, bi-partisan support.
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