The drastic change in American energy policy in the new Trump administration can be summarized as follows: laissez faire, fossil fuels, and global warming. Though it still leaves a number of policy details unclear, perhaps the most direct statement of the President-elect’s energy policy was contained in a speech he gave in mid-May of this year in North Dakota. In it, Mr. Trump declared his intention to rescind virtually all federal regulations governing fossil fuels and nuclear power. The regulations to be removed are described as “unwarranted” and “job-destroying,” qualifiers whose meaning rests in the mind of the speaker and his listeners. Left unsaid is the fact that virtually all of these regulations fall into categories of worker safety, environmental protection, and public safety. Mr. Trump promises to invite a resubmission from Trans Canada, the company whose application to construct the controversial Keystone pipeline was rejected after lengthy study by the Obama administration. The clear implication is that his Administration will approve the application.
Ban on all energy regulations
Trump promises to unleash #America's $50 trillion in untapped shale, #oil and #natural gas reserves and hundreds of years in coal reserves
He vows to eliminate regulations on “new drilling technologies,” presumably applied to fracking for natural gas, that will, in his opinion, create “millions of jobs.” The only standard for any regulation on energy production is whether it will create jobs. Since regulations exist to protect workers, the environment and public safety, that standard will eliminate virtually all energy regulations. In short, a policy of laissez faire will define energy production in the new Trump administration. He promises to “unleash” America’s $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in coal reserves. Since the advent of fracking a few years ago, the United States has moved from dependence on imported, largely Persian Gulf, oil to virtual energy independence. The announced Trump policy promises to achieve an independence from foreign sources it has already achieved. Mr. Trump promises to “save” the coal industry through abrogation of Obama and Clinton regulations guaranteeing miners’ safety and carbon reduction measures. He does not acknowledge that new domestic natural gas development, as well as carbon emission goals, are largely responsible for making coal less competitive. Overall, the Trump policy heavily favors a return to dependence on oil, gas, coal and nuclear power instead of a concerted effort to transition to sustainable sources such as sun and wind to reduce carbon emissions. Nothing is said about conservation or reduction of wasteful uses. There is no acknowledgment that no new nuclear power construction applications have been submitted for a number of years because of the extremely high costs of construction and the failure of nuclear power to achieve competitive advantage without heavy public subsidies. Less expensive, more dependable sources are available.
Since the advent of fracking a few years ago, the United States has moved from dependence on imported, largely Persian Gulf, oil to virtual energy independence.
The next steps for the Trump administration
-Rescinding all federal regulations governing fossil fuels and nuclear power -opening up negotiations again with TransCanada for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline; -eliminating regulations on "new drilling technologies," presumably applied to fracking for natural gas -"unleashing" America's $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in coal reserves -to withdraw US support from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement as well as the Obama Administration's Climate Action Plan
Increasingly removed from Paris
Perhaps most shocking of the Trump commitments is his rejection of cooperation in global climate change initiatives. He has promised that one of his first acts once in office in January, will be to withdraw U.S. support from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement as well as the Obama Administration’s Climate Action Plan. To the delight of his climate change-denier supporters, he has called human contribution to global warming a “hoax.” Though the Paris Accord has a detailed four-year abrogation process for all national signatories, Mr. Trump apparently will pay no heed to this process and withdraw U.S. support unilaterally. Were this to happen, it is to be expected that any chance of concerted international climate protection will collapse, at least for the next four crucial years, and major carbon emitting nations will be free to pursue their own course of energy production and consumption regardless of impact on the long-range climate. Citing claims from an energy industry policy center, the Institute for Energy Research, the President-elect promises that his “America First energy plan” will achieve the following:
- | A $700 billion increase in annual economic output over the next 30 years;
- | More than a $30 billion increase in annual wages over the next 7 years;
- | More than $20 trillion in additional economic activity and $6 trillion in new tax revenue.
The Republican Party will control both the House of Representatives and the Senate, and there is little reason to believe the Congress will challenge or overturn his energy policy initiatives that will represent a radical departure from decades of efforts to reduce carbon emissions and protect the environment. Unless Mr. Trump chooses to surround himself with a markedly different set of energy advisors from those he has relied on up to now, Americans and others observing our policies around the world should expect an energy program dramatically at odds with what we have been following up to now. In other major policy areas, including economic, foreign policy, and national security, there will be major departures from past consensus mainstream U.S. directions. In none of these areas will the departure be more dramatic than in the area of national energy policy.