This commentary originally appeared in RealClearEnergy on November 16th 2016.
Much has been said about what’s next for energy and climate policy under the new Trump Administration. Elections have consequences and, in this case, Americans just rejected the “keep it in the ground” extremism espoused by those whose only operating focus is their view that CO2 is a pollutant and climate change is real.
It should be no surprise to anyone on the right or left that over the last eight years the Obama Administration has used its power to impose a restrictive agenda on traditional land management practices on federal lands, and to the extent that it could, on private lands too. This has impeded energy production off federal onshore and offshore areas. The harmful impact on local communities and the economy has been telling. This agenda is driven by an unrelenting commitment to “fighting” climate change and has impacted policy prescriptions across the government.
The President-elect has already committed to revolutionizing energy policy and streamlining regulations. In his view, the wealth created will fund major infrastructure projects and provide prosperity to people. The incoming Administration has pledged to open federal lands – onshore and offshore – for oil and gas production. He will revoke policies that impose unnecessary restrictions on innovative exploration technologies, rescind the coal mining lease moratorium, and conduct a top-down review of all anti-coal regulations issued by the Obama Administration. He has also pledged to streamline the permitting process for all energy infrastructure projects.
These policies will reinvigorate communities across the nation. Especially those most seriously impacted by the current restrictive energy policies.
The purpose of these new policies is to stop the intrusion of government into the marketplace. Coal may not come back, but it should at least be allowed to compete on a level playing field against natural gas and so-called “green” energy such as wind and solar. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. coal production has fallen by almost a quarter from 1.17 million short tons in 2008 to just 897 million in 2015 and electricity produced from coal has declined by nearly 32 percent between 2008 and 2015. Coal's share of total power generation has sunk from almost 50 percent to just one-third. As a result, the regulatory war on coal has devastated many local communities.
As the American Energy Alliance said, “President-elect Trump’s victory presents an opportunity to reset the harmful energy policies of the last generation. He has laid out an energy plan that puts the needs of American families and workers first…[and] will deliver affordable energy to American families, invigorate the economy, and create more opportunities for future generations.” Mr. Trump has also pledged to protect and enhance the natural wonders of the country. These policies can be balanced and achieved together as long as all interests – not special interests – are considered.
On December 8, the Texas Public Policy Foundation is teaming up with The Heritage Foundation to host its third annual “At the Crossroads: Energy and Climate Policy Summit.” The program will feature influential lawmakers and industry experts who will explore the impact of the national elections on energy and climate policy. What’s next for energy policy? Come to our Summit and see for yourself.
The Honorable Doug Domenech is the Director of the Fueling Freedom Project at The Texas Public Policy Foundation.