Shutdown risks delays to U.S. drilling, ethanol, wind initiatives

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – The partial authorities shutdown is growing the possibilities of delays in U.S. vitality initiatives from the discharge of President Donald Trump’s proposed offshore drilling plan to permitting greater ranges of ethanol in gasoline throughout summer time months, vitality business teams mentioned on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: An offshore oil platform is seen in Huntington Beach, California September 28, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

The U.S. Department of Interior had been anticipated to launch its extremely anticipated 2019 to 2024 offshore oil and fuel drilling plan in early January.

The Trump administration has made opening up better areas to offshore drilling, and holding extra frequent lease gross sales, a part of its vitality dominance agenda to increase fossil gasoline output for each home use and exports. Industry curiosity in a number of lease gross sales has been tepid, however the administration has mentioned extra curiosity is predicted sooner or later.

The Interior Department is working at lowered staffing ranges due to the partial shutdown, which has stretched two weeks.

Nicolette Nye, a spokeswoman on the National Ocean Industries Association, mentioned her group is anticipating the shutdown will lead to a delay within the proposed plan’s launch. But she mentioned members of her group shouldn’t be overly affected so long as the ultimate drilling plan, anticipated to be launched this summer time, comes on time.

“It’s always a good thing to have something in place that they can use to plan on. But it’s more important to have the final plan on schedule for our companies,” Nye mentioned.

The Interior Department didn’t touch upon a possible delay. “Due to the lapse in appropriations the Department is unable to respond to inquiries unrelated to shutdown,” Heather Swift, a spokeswoman, mentioned in an e-mail in response to a request on the drilling proposal timeline.

Biofuel producers are nervous the shutdown may lead to delays in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines that might enable gross sales in summer time of gasoline containing up to 15 p.c ethanol, referred to as E15. Agricultural pursuits have lobbied for the gross sales after the Trump administration gave breaks on ethanol necessities to some oil refiners.

“From the outset, the EPA gave itself very little wiggle room to complete the year-round E15 rulemaking before summer, so the shutdown is making a tight timeline even tighter,” Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper mentioned in a launch.

Still, Cooper mentioned we he was assured the EPA will enable year-round E15 gross sales earlier than June 1.

When requested in regards to the potential for delays, an EPA spokeswoman mentioned the company will solely be responding to queries straight associated to the federal government shutdown or to environmental emergencies.

This week, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, an workplace of the Interior Department, warned that public conferences associated to what’s slated to be the biggest U.S. offshore wind farm shall be rescheduled if the shutdown continues into subsequent week.

    The 5 conferences are meant to enable the general public to touch upon the 800 megawatt undertaking’s environmental impacts and are at present scheduled to happen in Massachusetts and Rhode Island between Jan. eight and 17. The undertaking is being developed by Avangrid Inc (AGR.N) and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. The Trump administration has mentioned growth of a home offshore wind business is crucial to its vitality technique,

The Department of Energy and its impartial workplace the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee are each already funded for 2019, so the shutdown has minimal impact on their packages.

Reporting by Timothy Gardner in Washington, Nichola Groom in Los Angeles, and Jarrett Renshaw in New York

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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