President Trump is taking steps to keep his campaign promise to create jobs and economic growth by reducing energy regulations, but his effort falls short of fully reversing former President Obama’s climate change agenda.
Trump recognizes that by removing the regulatory shackles on domestic energy development, processing and transport, the U.S. can unleash its vast natural energy resources and become an energy superpower yielding numerous economic benefits including job creation, boosted tax revenue, increased exports, and improved national security.
To reach that goal requires a stubborn determination to rip Obama’s climate change agenda out by its roots and build a pro-fossil fuel energy policy on a strong foundation.
Trimming the climate change edges will not give the business community the regulatory certainty it needs to bring about a U.S. energy renaissance.
Despite progress, lingering questions remain about Trump’s commitment to completely overturning Obama’s anti-fossil fuel policies.
For example, Trump has not canceled U.S. participation in the United Nations Paris Climate Change Agreement, a carbon tax trial balloon was floated at the White House, and the EPA is not reopening its 2009 greenhouse gas endangerment finding which drives climate change regulations.
Admittedly, unwinding former President Obama’s climate change regulatory agenda is no small task, and Trump has made meaningful strides through executive branch actions and the Congressional Review Act.
Giving the green light to the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL Pipeline was important. The pipeline approvals allow a safer method of moving crude oil while providing construction and refinery jobs as well setting the stage for boosting energy exports.
Trump’s new Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth includes many beneficial policies that peel back key elements of the Obama climate change regime including changing EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
Despite these advances, Trump needs to take stronger steps for a pro-fossil economy including his promise to coal miners.
Trump’s recent executive order to rewrite the Clean Power Plan is not compelling enough for utilities — the companies that will determine the future of the coal industry.
As a Reuters story shows, the president’s Clean Power Plan effort does not give utilities the business certainty they need to invest in coal generated electricity.
According to its survey, Reuters found about sixty percent of utilities said coal power is not part of their long-term investment.
A spokesperson for North Dakota’s Basin Electric Power Cooperative said, “… the executive order takes a lot of pressure off the decisions we had to make in the near term, such as whether to retrofit and retire older coal plants.” He then added, “But Trump can be a one-termer, so the reprieve out there is short.”
Smart business leaders are not going to gamble on changing political winds or the legal outcome of expected lawsuits. With abundant natural gas supplies, utilities have the luxury of picking less politically risky power sources.
Adding to the business uncertainty is Trump’s hesitation to pull out of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. During the campaign, Trump promised he would “cancel” U.S. participation in the UN effort.
Trump’s indecision on the Paris Agreement is confusing and troubling. Without the Clean Power Plan, the U.S. can’t meet its emissions targets, making our continued participation deceiving and meaningless.
Taxing energy via a carbon tax sends the wrong signal to energy companies, and it preferentially harms coal since it emits twice the amount of carbon dioxide than natural gas.
Conservative critics are also questioning Trump’s commitment to reverse Obama’s climate change agenda because the EPA is not looking to change the agency’s 2009 endangerment finding.
The EPA’s endangerment finding is the rule that established greenhouse gasses including carbon dioxide pose a danger to human health and it serves as the foundation for climate change regulations.
Tackling the endangerment finding will unleash the climate change mob including companies that bet big bucks on energy regulations, but it would allow a full vetting of the new climate change science.
Reversing the EPA endangerment finding would provide the long-term certainty businesses need.
As a builder, Trump knows the importance of a solid foundation. In the political context, that means his energy policy must withstand the winds of progressive attacks now and in the future.
For Trump to achieve his energy vision for the U.S., he must show the business community and the world he is serious about reversing Obama’s entire climate change agenda. (For more from the author of “Trump Wants to Unleash America’s Energy Potential. So Why Is He Keeping Aspects of Obama’s Destructive Agenda?” please click HERE)