The Trump administration will quickly move to enable forward progress for energy infrastructure and pipeline projects, Washington insider and energy expert Joseph McMonigle predicted during a webinar Nov. 11.

“We’ve been saying since the summertime that if Trump won, you could see the Keystone [XL] Pipeline approved on Day One or the first week of his administration,” said McMonigle, president of The Abraham Group LLC. “We expect that to be the case, and indeed, they’ve kind of signaled that they’re ready to do that.”

The president-elect promised to “absolutely approve [Keystone XL], 100%” during the campaign, but indicated during that time that he would want to renegotiate the terms of permitting, suggesting that he would seek a cut of the profits for the U.S. Treasury.

McMonigle dismissed the notion.

“I just sort of write that off as Trump-speak and campaign rhetoric,” he said. “The bottom line is he will be approving that quite quickly, I think, to show that he is taking decisive action and things are going to change pretty quickly.”

Mark Cooper, a spokesman for TransCanada Corp. (NYSE: TRP), told Canada’s Financial Post one day after the U.S. presidential election that the company was developing its proposal for Keystone XL for the new administration and was fully committed to the project.

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), the target of nationwide protests that have resulted in arrests at the North Dakota construction site, can also be expected to gain swift approval under the next administration.

McMonigle considers the review of construction permits by the Army Corps of Engineers—after the Corps had already granted approval—to be on “very shaky legal ground,” and said Energy Transfer Partners (NYSE: ETP) would probably win a court case if the approvals were denied.

More likely is a state of limbo to play out until the next president is sworn in on Jan. 20, McMonigle said.

“My guess is that the White House and administration will probably do nothing and just leave it to the new Trump team to deal with,” he said. “I would expect if that’s the case, that again, Trump would basically signal that the approval is there and that one would be quickly approved, too.”

On Monday, Reuters reported that the U.S. government delayed a decision on whether to grant an easement to Energy Transfer Partners for construction of a segment of the pipeline.

RFS Reform

Another issue the Trump energy team can tackle without the need for congressional action is the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a federal program that requires a minimum amount of renewable fuels to be included in transportation fuels. It dates to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and was expanded by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

The refining industry wants the RFS to be reformed; ethanol blenders do not, which creates a balancing act for an administration that was compelled to shift its position during the campaign to remain competitive in pro-ethanol states like Iowa.

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it would deny petitions from Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO) and other refiners to change the point of obligation on the RFS from refiners to blenders.

Trump has said he is open to making the change, but McMonigle urged refiners to curb their optimism.“I don’t think this is a slam dunk by any means for refiners,” he said. “But I do think the door is now open, whereas if Clinton had won, the door would be firmly closed.”

The ethanol industry is opposed less for substantive reasons than for fear of what will happen if the law is open to change. The Trump team will need to reassure blenders, McMonigle said.

“This is not something that he would need Congress to change,” he said. “The EPA could just issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to change the point of obligation from refiners to blenders.”

The announcement alone would benefit refiners’ stock prices, McMonigle said.

“In terms of an investable-type catalyst,” he said, “I think this is a pretty big one with Trump.”

Joseph Markman can be reached at or @JHMarkman.