The recent U.S. election has been one of the biggest news items the world over this month. And the change of presidents is also having some important effects on the natural resources business the past few weeks.
As part of his last weeks in office, outgoing president Barack Obama has implemented a slew of measures covering mining, oil and gas, and renewables. Some of which may have long-lasting implications for project developers across the U.S.
One of the biggest shifts is coming in renewable energy. With the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) this month releasing a new set of rules covering solar and wind projects on public lands — which could reshape the environment for such developments.
The biggest change is that the new rules lay out a concrete bidding process for prospective project areas on government land. Outlining procedures that will make it easier for developers to submit applications.
And the rules also have some important financial effects. For solar projects, they will decrease the amount of rent and fees paid to the government — although will increase the amount of capital that solar developers must commit up front.
Importantly, the rules also grant solar developers a guaranteed 30-year lease. Which gives greater certainty to new projects.
Wind power developers, by contrast, will see rents and fees rise. With some insiders in the wind industry saying the new rules will make new projects on public lands a challenge to get off the ground.
Elsewhere, the Obama administration has also pushed through final rules restricting flaring of natural gas in the petroleum industry. A move that was met by immediate lawsuits from the states of Wyoming and Montana, who are seeking to overturn the restrictions.
Obama has also been active on the mining front. With the Department of Interior moving to withdraw 30,000 acres of public lands near Yellowstone National Park from licensing for gold exploration. Existing licenses in the area will be honoured, but new issuances will be forbidden for at least the next two years.
We’ve still got a couple months to go until the official presidential changeover. Watch to see if more critical legislative developments emerge for the American natural resources sector.