Biden Administration Takes Aim at Oil and Gas

On the campaign trail, President Biden called for the U.S. to phase out its dependence on fossil fuels. His first week in office has certainly set a similar tone, with several climate related Executive Orders. Today, the president issued a new Executive Order, which according to the administration, is set to "empower" American workers and businesses to “lead a clean energy revolution” that would achieve a carbon pollution-free sector by 2035, while putting the U.S. on an “irreversible path to a net-zero economy by 2050.” The order, clearly establishes climate considerations as an “essential element” of U.S. foreign policy and national security. 

Highlights related to our industry include:

The order directs the Secretary of the Interior to pause on entering into new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or offshore waters to the extent possible, launch a rigorous review of all existing leasing and permitting practices related to fossil fuel development on public lands and waters, and identify steps that can be taken to double renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030.

The order does not restrict energy activities on lands that the United States holds in trust for Tribes. The Secretary of the Interior will continue to consult with Tribes regarding the development and management of renewable and conventional energy resources, in conformance with the U.S. government’s trust responsibilities.

The order also directs federal agencies to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies as consistent with applicable law and identify new opportunities to spur innovation, commercialization, and deployment of clean energy technologies and infrastructure. 

Additionally, the order tasks a new Interagency Working Group to advance projects that reduce emissions of toxic substances and greenhouse gases from existing and abandoned infrastructure and that prevent environmental damage that harms communities and poses a risk to public health and safety – such as projects to reduce methane emissions, oil and brine leaks, and other environmental harms from tens of thousands of former mining and well sites.

In response, IPAA issued the following statement, 

 IPAA: “Don’t Be Fooled. This is a Ban on Production”

‘Build Back Better’ was simply campaign rhetoric 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to the Biden Administration’s executive order directing the Department of Interior to halt new oil and natural gas leases on public lands and waters, the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) released the following statement: 

Dan Naatz, IPAA SVP of Government Relations and Political Affairs: “In his first week in office, President Biden has already shown that his campaign theme to “Build Back Better” was simply campaign rhetoric. In the latest blow to American oil and natural gas producers, the Biden Administration announced it is placing an indefinite halt on new oil and natural gas leases on federal lands and waters. However, do not be fooled, this is a ban. Federal lands and waters together accounted for 22% of total U.S. oil production and 12% of U.S. natural gas production in 2019, according to the Energy Information Administration. The Biden Administration’s plan to obliterate the jobs of American oil and gas explorers and producers has been on clear display with cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the initial announcement of a 60-day freeze on federal leasing and permitting, and now this.   

“On Monday, President Biden issued an executive order “Strengthening Buy American Provisions, Ensuring Future of America is Made in America by All of America’s Workers.” This latest order, made in the name of protecting the environment, does the opposite – it will only shift jobs and energy production to Saudi Arabia and Russia, which have far less-stringent environmental controls than America. 

1 reaction Share

Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan Dealt Another Loss in Court

The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan’s (CBFM) complaint seeking to certify its petition to ban fracking in Michigan.

Beginning in 2015, the CBFM collected signatures to put a ban on hydraulic fracturing on the ballot. The group, however, failed to gather the required number of signatures within the 180-day window required by law. The group has been fighting the limit in court since 2016.

Last week, the Court of Appeals rejected the group’s request to strike down the statute.

The CBFM has said it will now appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court, where Democratic-nominated justices have the majority for the first time since 2010.

Click here to read the Court's opinion

1 reaction Share

MDHHS Director Gordon Resigns. Elizabeth Hertel named new Director

Elizabeth Hertel has been named the new director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), replacing Director Robert Gordon, who resigned Friday.

“Elizabeth Hertel has dedicated her career to protecting Michiganders’ public health, and she is uniquely prepared to lead MDHHS as we continue working together to end the COVID-19 pandemic,” Whitmer said. “She has served across multiple administrations from both parties, and knows how to bring people together to get things done. In her service to the state, she has proven time and again that she will do everything in her power to ensure the health and safety of Michigan families everywhere.”

According to Director Hertel's bio, she was previously Senior Chief Deputy Director for Administration where she oversaw External Relations and Communications, Finance and Administration, Legislative Services, Legal Affairs, Policy & Planning, Strategic Integration, Organizational Services, Workforce Engagement and Community and Faith Engagement.

Hertel joined the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) in 2013 as the senior assistant for Policy and Planning, and in February 2014, was appointed director of Policy and Planning. Following the merger of the Departments of Community Health and Human Services into MDHHS in 2015, Hertel served as senior deputy director for Policy, Planning and Legislative Services. In October 2016, she left that position to serve as director of Michigan Advocacy for Trinity Health and returned to MDHHS and her current position in February 2019.

“As we work to ramp up distribution of the safe and effective COVID vaccine and end the pandemic, I am eager to work with Gov. Whitmer and her administration to keep Michiganders safe and healthy,” Hertel said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to lead the department at this time.”

1 reaction Share

Indoor Dining Set to Re-Open on Feb. 1st

1 reaction Share

Biden Signs Several Climate Related Executive Orders on Day 1

President Biden has directed executive departments and federal agencies to review actions taken over the past four years and consider suspending, revising, or rescinding the agency actions that are inconsistent with the new administration's policy. 

The Biden administration's policy as detailed in the press release on presidential actions is as follows, 

"It is, therefore, the policy of my Administration to listen to the science; to improve public health and protect our environment; to ensure access to clean air and water; to limit exposure to dangerous chemicals and pesticides; to hold polluters accountable, including those who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities; to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; to bolster resilience to the impacts of climate change; to restore and expand our national treasures and monuments; and to prioritize both environmental justice and the creation of the well-paying union jobs necessary to deliver on these goals".

This review will likely include reinstating Obama era controls on methane, or perhaps going even further. The methane rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency in August of 2020 removed unnecessary and duplicative regulatory burdens that fell overwhelmingly on the nation's small, independent producers.

The rule titled, Reducing Methane Emissions in the Oil and Gas Sector:  “Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources Reconsideration,” is likely to be quickly undone under the Biden administration as its specifically mentioned in the President's Executive Order. 

Click Here for the The full Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.

Other actions include:

  • Moving to rejoin the Paris accord.
  • Imposing a moratorium on oil leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Ordering the Interior Department to review monument boundaries shrunk during the Trump administration, including Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument, which was pared to about 220,000 acres from its original 1.4-million-acre footprint.
  • Halting the cross-border Keystone XL oil pipeline by revoking the a key permit.

 

1 reaction Share

President Biden expected to revoke permit, halting work on the Keystone XL pipeline

Construction on the Keystone XL began last year and about 300 miles have been completed so far. The 1,700-mile pipeline would carry roughly 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma.

First proposed in 2008, the Obama administration rejected the project in 2015. President Trump revived the project on his first days in office and construction had been underway. However, in anticipation of the incoming Biden administration revocation of a key cross-border presidential permit, the company has suspended work on the project. 

Marty Durbin, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Energy Institute, said Mr. Biden's decision is not grounded in science and will put thousands of Americans out of work,

"The pipeline — the most studied infrastructure project in American history — is already under construction and has cleared countless legal and environmental hurdles," Durbin said in a statement. "Halting construction will also impede the safe and efficient transport of oil, and unfairly single out production from one of our closest and most important allies."

1 reaction Share

Governor Whitmer Announces the Michigan COVID Recovery Plan to Jumpstart the State’s Economy and End the COVID-19 Pandemic

In a press release, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has announced the Michigan COVID Recovery Plan to grow Michigan’s economy and help end the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor’s plan includes a strong focus on vaccine distribution, economic recovery, schools, and more.

The Michigan COVID Recovery Plan includes,

--- PUBLIC HEALTH ---

VACCINE DISTRIBUTION: Michigan is ready to ramp up vaccination distribution, which will help us get back to normal as quickly as possible. Last month, Congress appropriated $90 million in additional resources for vaccine distribution in Michigan through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. The governor’s plan will use this federal funding to ramp up vaccine distribution in Michigan and bring us closer to our goal of 50,000 shots in arms per day. This funding will help provide financial support to local health departments for vaccine administration costs, including staff augmentation, as well as provide equipment and supplies. Michigan will also receive $575 million to expand COVID testing, tracing, and lab capacity in Michigan.

--- JOBS AND ECONOMY ---

SUPPORT FOR SMALL BUSINESS: As part of the governor’s MI COVID Recovery Plan, the governor’s plan provides $225 million for three new programs from the MEDC:

  • The Michigan Mainstreet Initiative will help stabilize our small business community by securing grants for restaurants and other place-based businesses to keep our Main Streets vibrant and our communities resilient.
  • The Michigan Microenterprise Support Initiative will help us put small businesses with less than nine employees on the path to recovery by creating greater access to much needed support.
  • And the Business Accelerator and Resiliency Initiative will provide grants to high-tech startups that can help our communities thrive.

“To help grow and strengthen our economy, we must provide crucial support for our families, small businesses, and frontline workers,” said Governor Whitmer. “The MI COVID Recovery Plan will help small businesses get through the winter, help us put more shots in arms and ramp up vaccine distribution, and get our kids back on track in school. It’s the right thing to do to protect public health and jumpstart our economy, and I’m ready to work with the legislature to get it done.”

Click Read More for more details on the governor’s plan.

Read more
1 reaction Share

Governor Whitmer announces special election dates to fill seat in 8th and 28th Senate Districts

Governor Gretchen Whitmer today announced the dates for special elections to fill vacancies in the 8th and 28th Districts of the Michigan SenateA special primary election to fill the vacancy will be held on August 3rd, 2021, and the general election will be held on November 2nd, 2021. 

“The 8th and 28th Senate Districts deserve representation in the legislature, and voters will have an opportunity to make their voices heard at the ballot box in the August 3rd primary and the November 2nd general election,” said Governor Whitmer. “Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and I remain committed to ensuring fair and secure elections that reflect the will of the people, and I look forward to working with her to ensure the people of Michigan have a voice in Lansing.” 

The Michigan’s 28th Senate District seat was previously held by Senator Peter MacGregor, who was elected as the Kent County Treasurer in the November 3rd, 2020 general election.  

The 8th Senate District seat was previously held by Senator Peter Lucido, who was elected as the Macomb County Prosecutor in the November 3rd, 2020 general election. 

Candidates wishing to be placed on the August 3rd primary ballot must file by April 20th, 2021. 

1 reaction Share

SBA to Re-Open Paycheck Protection Program Loan Portal

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will re-open the Paycheck Protection Program loan portal to PPP-eligible lenders with $1 billion or less in assets for First and Second Draw applications on 𝗙𝗿𝗶𝗱𝗮𝘆, 𝗝𝗮𝗻𝘂𝗮𝗿𝘆 𝟭𝟱 𝗮𝘁 𝟵 𝗮𝗺 𝗘𝗧 and fully open the portal on Tuesday, January 19.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides loans to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. SBA is currently offering:

First Draw PPP Loans for first time program participants.

Second Draw PPP Loans beginning January 13, 2021 for certain businesses who have previously received a PPP loan.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) now allows certain eligible borrowers that previously received a PPP loan to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan with the same general loan terms as their First Draw PPP Loan. 

Second Draw PPP Loans can be used to help fund payroll costs, including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay for mortgage interest, rent, utilities, worker protection costs related to COVID-19, uninsured property damage costs caused by looting or vandalism during 2020, and certain supplier costs and expenses for operations.

Maximum loan amount and increased assistance for accommodation and food services businesses

For most borrowers, the maximum loan amount of a Second Draw PPP Loan is 2.5x average monthly 2019 or 2020 payroll costs up to $2 million. For borrowers in the Accommodation and Food Services sector (use NAICS 72 to confirm), the maximum loan amount for a Second Draw PPP Loan is 3.5x average monthly 2019 or 2020 payroll costs up to $2 million.

Who may qualify

A borrower is generally eligible for a Second Draw PPP Loan if the borrower: 

  • Previously received a First Draw PPP Loan and will or has used the full amount only for authorized uses
  • Has no more than 300 employees; and
  • Can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020

How and when to apply

You can apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan from January 13, 2021, until March 31, 2021. To promote access for smaller lenders and their customers, SBA will initially only accept Second Draw PPP Loan applications from participating community financial institutions (CFIs). All Second Draw PPP Loans will have the same terms regardless of lender or borrower. 

To be matched with a participating lender, visit SBA Lender Match.

If you wish to begin preparing your application, you can download the following PPP borrower application form to see the information that will be requested from you when you apply with a lender:

Paycheck Protection Program Second Draw Borrower Application Form (released 01-08-21)

1 reaction Share

Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate launches website to highlight actions toward justice

According to a Jan. 14 press release, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s (EGLE) Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate has launched a website to better connect Michigan residents with the state’s work toward ensuring equity and environmental justice

The site, Michigan.gov/EnvironmentalJustice, highlights ongoing environmental justice projects and initiatives, community partnerships, and ways for the public to interact with the office. It also offers information on the state’s Interagency Environmental Justice Response Team, inaugural Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice, as well as Tribal Relations, and EGLE’s nondiscrimination, public participation and tribal consultation polices.  EGLE’s newly developed Limited English Proficiency plan is also available on the site in English, Arabic and Spanish.

“Action is at the heart of environmental justice advocacy. The role of the Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate is to work collaboratively within state government and with the community to move toward ensuring environmental justice in the state,” said Regina Strong, Environmental Justice Public Advocate. “This new website is designed to provide a window into how we are moving the needle.”

The Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate was created by Governor Gretchen Whitmer's Executive Order 2019-06 to serve as an external and internal advocate and catalyst for ensuring environmental justice throughout the state. The Office operates as a Type I agency within EGLE, with a direct line to the Governor’s office to elevate concerns and coordinate across state government. The Office also works to address and resolve environmental justice concerns and complaints and advance environmental justice and equity in Michigan.

Michigan defines environmental justice as the equitable treatment and meaningful involvement of all people – regardless of race, color, national origin, ability or income – and is critical to the development and application of laws, regulations and policies that affect the environment, as well as the places people live, work, play, worship and learn.

1 reaction Share

Michigan Petroleum Directory Now Available!