Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is looking to focus on energy policy, according to his energy counselor at the first meeting of the department's new Royalty Policy Committee on Wednesday.
Vincent DeVito said the creation of the committee marks the beginning of energy becoming a "heightened prioritization" instead of a "sleepy portfolio," as President Trump's "energy dominance" agenda now "permeates every part" of the agency's focus.
"Our focus on energy policy is a new thing" and "this committee has a job unlike any other in the past," DeVito said. "No other committee ... has an agenda and authorization to pursue" the goal of energy development, he said.
The committee will not be focused solely on royalties, DeVito said. The panel will examine "every financial aspect — the broad spectrum" of issues affecting energy development on public lands and seek to "improve it."
The creation of the committee sparked the ire of environmentalists and aligned groups when it was announced and was criticized for stacking the deck with energy industry officials.
The committee looks to be "a force under the energy-dominant strategy," DeVito said. Improving the energy economy will improve the economy for all Americans, he added. Not only will the committee be making recommendations, but it will handle implementation on policy, much like a company would. And that could occur quickly, he noted.
"This is a business committee, this is our board, our shareholders are the American people," DeVito said. He said the panel could implement policy as soon as "tomorrow," if need be, noting the recent opening of the Berwind Coal Mine that straddles Virginia and West Virginia as the kind of action the panel would seek to recommend and implement.