President-elect Donald Trump intends to hit the ground running on energy and environment policy. Trump already has an expert team in place drafting important policy changes from the Obama administration. Here are 10 likely changes that will impact energy production, energy use, and the U.S. economy.
1. Goodbye to the Clean Power Plan. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan was political poison for Democrats in the November elections. In 14 Senate races highlighted before the elections by the liberal website Mother Jones as being especially important in the global warming debate, 11 were won by candidates opposing the Clean Power Plan. The Clean Power Plan was decisively damaging to Hillary Clinton in Great Lakes battleground states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
The American public supports government taking some steps to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that cause some global warming, but Donald Trump realized expensive, highly partisan, top-down restrictions are an unpopular prescription. Expect Trump to fulfill his campaign promise to retract the Clean Power Plan immediately upon taking office. Don’t be surprised, however, if he extends an olive branch to people concerned about global warming by offering alternative policies that address carbon dioxide emissions in a more affordable, fair, free-market manner.
2. Increased energy production on federal lands. Oil and natural gas prices have fallen dramatically thanks to the fracking revolution and increased production. This increased production, however, has occurred in spite of – rather than because of – Obama administration policies. Fortunately for American consumers, increased production on privately owned and state-owned lands has more than compensated for the Obama administration increasing the percentage of federal-owned lands rendered off-limits to oil and gas production. Expect the Trump administration to open up more federal lands to energy production, which will further increase domestic oil and natural gas production. This will in turn lower energy prices, increase royalty payments to offset our national debt, and bolster the American economy.
3. Coal gets a reprieve. Restrictions on coal production and coal power have reached unprecedented severity under the Obama administration. Coal is unlikely to be saddled with any new environmental restrictions under the Trump administration. Just as importantly, the Trump administration is likely to rescind many of the restrictions imposed by the Obama administration, such as a new slate of restrictions announced last week. This may not revive coal power, which faces strong competition from inexpensive natural gas. Nevertheless, coal will face fewer regulatory restrictions under the Trump administration.
4. Wind power industry loses its free pass to kill bald eagles. Private individuals, oil producers, natural gas producers, and everybody else in America justifiably pay severe penalties for killing bald eagles, even inadvertently. Not so the wind power industry. In the ironic name of environmentalism, wind power gets a free pass on the 1.4 million birds and bats the industry kills each year, including endangered and protected species like the bald eagle. The Obama administration last week dramatically increased the number of bald eagles wind power companies can kill without penalty. Expect the Trump administration to reverse this course and make the wind power industry accountable to the same environmental protections that apply to everyone else.
5. Wind and solar power loses disproportionate subsidies. Wind and solar subsidies during the past decade have dwarfed those of all other energy sources, imposing expensive and unreliable power on American consumers. The wind and solar industries claim their products are falling in price and insist they can provide power on a cost-competitive basis with conventional power. Expect the Trump administration to hold the wind and solar industries to their word, reducing subsidies and restoring a level playing field for competing energy sources.
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