Biden suspends Trump’s bulk-power system executive order for 90 days


January 21, 2021Corina Rivera-Linares

President Joe Biden, in a Jan. 20 executive order, suspended for 90 days the May 2020 “Executive Order on Securing the United States Bulk-Power System,” signed by former President Donald Trump.

Biden’s “Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis” noted that the Secretary of Energy and director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) are to jointly consider whether to recommend that a replacement order be issued.

As TransmissionHub reported, in his May 1, 2020, executive order, Trump said that he finds that “the unrestricted acquisition or use in the United States of bulk-power system electric equipment designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of foreign adversaries augments the ability of foreign adversaries to create and exploit vulnerabilities in bulk-power system electric equipment, with potentially catastrophic effects.”

That executive order noted, in part, that any acquisition, importation, transfer, or installation of any bulk-power system electric equipment is prohibited by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, where the transaction involves any property in which any foreign country or a national thereof has any interest, where the transaction was initiated after the date of the executive order, and where the Secretary of Energy — in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and in consultation with others, including the Secretary of Defense — has determined that:

  • The transaction involves bulk-power system electric equipment designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied, by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of a foreign adversary
  • The transaction poses an undue risk of sabotage to or subversion of the design, integrity, manufacturing, production, distribution, installation, operation, or maintenance of the bulk-power system in the United States; poses an undue risk of catastrophic effects on the security or resiliency of United States critical infrastructure or the economy of the United States; or otherwise poses an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States or the security and safety of United States persons

In his executive order, Biden noted that his administration’s policy is “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.”

To that end, Biden continued, the executive order directs all executive departments and agencies to immediately review and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, take action to address the promulgation of federal regulations and other actions during the last four years that conflict with important national objectives, as well as to immediately begin work to confront the climate crisis.

Biden’s executive order directed the heads of all agencies to immediately review all existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, and any other similar agency actions promulgated, issued, or adopted between Jan. 20, 2017, and Jan. 20, 2021, that are or may be inconsistent with — or present obstacles to — the policy as noted in the executive order.

For instance, the executive order noted that in light of the alleged legal deficiencies underlying the program, the Secretary of the Interior is to, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, place a temporary moratorium on all activities of the federal government relating to the implementation of the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program, as established by the record of decision signed on Aug. 17, 2020, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The secretary is to review the program and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, conduct a new, comprehensive analysis of the potential environmental impacts of the oil and gas program, the executive order added.

The executive order also revoked the Presidential permit granted by Trump in March 2019, to TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P., to build, connect, operate, and maintain pipeline facilities at the international border of the United States and Canada.

Biden noted that in 2015, following a review, the Department of State and former President Barack Obama determined that approving the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would not serve the U.S. national interest.

“Leaving the Keystone XL pipeline permit in place would not be consistent with my Administration’s economic and climate imperatives,” Biden added.

TC Energy Corporation, in a Jan. 20 statement, said that “it is disappointed with the expected action to revoke the existing Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.”

The company said, in part, that while it will review the decision, assess its implications, and consider its options, advancement of the project will be suspended.

Among other things, Biden’s executive order also established an Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases, which is to publish, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, an interim social cost of carbon (SCC), social cost of nitrous oxide (SCN), and social cost of methane (SCM) within 30 days of the date of the order, which agencies are to use when monetizing the value of changes in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from regulations and other relevant agency actions until final values are published. The working group is to publish a final SCC, SCN, and SCM by January 2022, Biden added.

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