Trump eyes oil billionaire, lawmaker for energy secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) — An oil billionaire, a North Dakota lawmaker and a former Bush administration official are being considered to run Donald Trump’s Energy Department, according to transition planning documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The documents, which are being closely scrutinized by energy lobbyists in Washington, also outline early policy priorities for a Trump administration. Topping the list is repealing the Clean Power Plan, an Obama administration effort to limit carbon pollution from power plants. Implementation is currently on hold awaiting a court ruling.

Those under consideration for energy secretary include Harold Hamm, an Oklahoma oil tycoon and leading proponent of fracking, and North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, an early Trump supporter from a major oil drilling state. Venture capitalist Robert Grady, who worked in President George H.W. Bush’s administration, is listed as a contender to lead both the Energy and Interior Departments.

It’s unclear whether the list is exhaustive or has been reviewed by Trump. The Republican is in the early stages of setting up his administration, having named only his White House chief of staff and chief strategist thus far.

The Trump to-do list targets recent Obama administration efforts to reduce air and water pollution that have been opposed by Republicans and industries that profit from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, including the “waters of the United States” rule and ozone regulations.

As with the Clean Power Plan, a coalition of conservative states has challenged the EPA rule issued in 2015 that expanded the definition of waters protected under the Clean water Act to smaller non-navigable waters and seasonal tributaries. The change, the implementation of which has been stayed pending appeal, increased water permitting requirements for numerous industries that critics say would increase costs. Environmental groups say the expansion is needed to reduce pollution from such sites as coal mines.

Another item Trump is expected to target is the EPA’s recent standard for reducing smog caused by coal-fired power plants and factories. The rules limit cross-state pollution from emissions of nitrogen oxides, which causes ground-level ozone linked to breathing problems for many people.

Also on the chopping block are Obama administration regulations intended to limit harmful emissions and chemical-laden waste water from hydraulic fracturing operations at oil and gas wells.

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