Thursday, March 23, 2017

As Trump slashes environmental regulations


Oil and gas companies are telling their shareholders, the important people in their world, that the regulations have little or no effect on their bottom lines.
In annual reports to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 13 of the 15 biggest U.S. oil and gas producers said that compliance with current regulations is not impacting their operations or their financial condition.

The other two made no comment about whether their businesses were materially affected by regulation, but reported spending on compliance with environmental regulations at less than 3 percent of revenue.

The dissonance raises questions about whether Trump’s war on regulation can increase domestic oil and gas output, as he has promised, or boost profits and share prices of oil and gas companies, as some investors have hoped.

According to the SEC, a publicly traded company must deem a matter "material" and report it to the agency if there is a substantial likelihood that a reasonable investor would consider it important.

"Materiality is a fairly low bar," said Cary Coglianese, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania who runs the university’s research program on regulation. "Despite exaggerated claims, regulatory costs are usually a very small portion of many companies’ cost of doing business."

Continental Resources (CLR.N) CEO, Harold Hamm, who advised Trump on energy issues during his campaign for the White House, told the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July that stripping regulation could allow the country to double its production of oil and gas, triggering a new "American energy renaissance."

Yet Continental's annual report, filed last month with the SEC, says environmental regulation - after eight years under the Obama administration - does not have a "material adverse effect on our operations to any greater degree than other similarly situated competitors."

Continental's competitors who reported actual spending on environmental compliance told investors that such expenses amount to a small percentage of operating revenues.
So a few individuals are jonesing for return to smog filled filthy air but the companies affected repeatedly say, No big deal. A normal president would say Meh! but a Tangerine Shitgibbon is guaranteed to attack. And we have to breathe that shit.

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