Election 2016 Energy Debate
Trump and Clinton Address Industry Concerns
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon calls energy the “golden thread that connects economic growth, social equity, and environmental sustainability,” adding that energy poverty “condemns billions to darkness, ill health (and) missed opportunities.” Given the direct correlation that has been shown between per capita energy consumption and standard of living, what policies can we expect from your administration to ensure the United States continues to be blessed with abundant, affordable supplies of domestic energy?
Trump: Affordable energy is key to the well-being of everyone. As president, I will implement an “America First” energy plan that enables the United States to become the world’s dominant leader in energy production, and gets the government out of the way of innovation within all forms of energy. My administration will develop a regulatory and legislative road map to:
- Rescind Obama’s executive actions and regulations that are outdated, unnecessary, bad for workers, illegal, or contrary to the national interest, including the Climate Action Plan and “waters of the United States” rule;
- Lift moratoriums on energy production in federal areas;
- Support the Keystone XL Pipeline and other important energy infrastructure projects;
- Revoke policies that impose unwarranted restrictions on new drilling technologies;
- Ensure affordable, reliable, clean electricity from coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydropower, solar, wind, and other domestic sources;
- Encourage the use of free-market principles in energy policy instead of the federal government choosing winners and losers;
- End U.S. involvement in the Paris Climate Agreement and stop payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs;
- Restore the important role of U.S. coal in the American economy; and
- Select top officials at the Department of Energy, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior, and other relevant federal agencies who will faithfully execute the laws of the United States, implement policies that are consistent with an America First energy plan, and not seek to use their power to push an extreme environmental agenda.
Clinton: As President, I (will be) committed to pursuing an energy pathway for America that is safe, affordable, and environmentally sustainable, and will work with other countries around the world to help them do the same. Failure to pursue such a path–domestically and internationally–threatens us all.
The effects of climate change are too obvious to ignore. We can see them with our own eyes, in our own communities. In California, higher temperatures have worsened a brutal drought, which has lasted four years and shows no signs of abating. In New York, flooding from Hurricane Sandy was made worse as a result of New York Harbor being nearly a foot higher than it was 100 years ago. In Alaska, villages that were settled before the United States even existed are facing imminent destruction because of a rising ocean, retreating ice, and more violent storms.
Climate change will have serious economic and public health consequences for the United States, but that is nothing compared with what some other countries face. At the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009, I listened as the leaders of small island nations such as the Maldives pleaded for the world to act. Otherwise, they said, their homelands will cease to exist. I have met with leaders from Africa’s Sahel region. Droughts there have created millions of climate refugees.
Fortunately, we don’t have to choose between meeting the climate challenge and ensuring the safe, affordable, and reliable supply of energy required for economic growth. The United States is blessed with abundant clean energy solutions. The Midwest has some of the highest quality wind resources in the world and wind power now is among the most affordable forms of electricity supply in the country.
Solar prices continue to plummet, and companies are leveraging our rich solar resources from Georgia to the Mojave Desert. American farmers lead the world in developing biofuels. Our nuclear engineering expertise is unrivaled, and our universities, national laboratories and companies have made considerable progress in carbon capture and sequestration.
As president I will partner with states, cities and rural communities across the country to leverage these strengths, not only to meet the climate challenge, but to ensure the United States is the clean energy superpower of the 21st Century.
Ten years ago, petroleum and natural gas provided 62.7 percent of U.S. energy consumption. Today, they provide 65.2 percent, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects petroleum and natural gas will continue to supply 61.6 percent of U.S. energy demand through 2040. What role do you foresee for oil and natural gas in America’s energy future, and how will that be reflected in your administration’s policies?
Trump: I support a major increase in U.S. energy production, including oil and gas in offshore areas and on federal lands.
My opponent, Hillary Clinton, says her main energy goal will be to install 500 million solar panels, and that she would ban fracturing in most places, and ban energy production on public lands and in most offshore areas. Her energy policy will immediately and severely damage our economy, particularly in places where oil and gas production is strong.
She also will block enormous economic growth opportunities in states such as Florida, Virginia and North Carolina, where opening offshore areas for safe energy production is supported strongly. This is on top of her plans to also continue the Obama administration’s anti-coal agenda. She has stated expressly: “We are going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”
Clinton: As we transition to a clean energy economy, oil and gas production and transportation must be performed safely and responsibly. That is why I have called for closing the Halliburton loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act, reducing methane emissions by 40-45 percent, and ensuring systems and permitting procedures are in place to avoid induced seismic activity.
I also have called for improving pipeline and rail safety, and repairing or replacing thousands of miles of outdated natural gas distribution infrastructure within my first term. I also will work to raise labor standards through support for apprenticeship programs, collective bargaining agreements, and project labor agreements.
Of late, it seems as if federal energy policy has been driven more by attitudes regarding global climate than concerns about powering America. What are your views regarding the interplay between energy and the environment? Do you believe it is imperative, or even necessary, to push for a “low-carbon” energy future? How does America’s oil and gas industry factor into that vision?
Trump: I strongly oppose the extreme, climate-alarmist agenda of the Obama-Clinton years. Too often, the Obama-Clinton team imposed billions of dollars in environmental costs on American citizens without achieving real environmental benefits. In fact, the Obama EPA cut funding to the states for water infrastructure and programs that help rural communities while increasing spending on EPA bureaucrats, lawyers, and U.N. climate programs.
As president, I will rescind the Climate Action Plan (including the Clean Power Plan) and other excessive regulations issued under the Clean Air Act that impose unjustified costs on Americans. My administration will work cooperatively with the states to achieve shared, common-sense environmental goals.
Affordable energy is critical to the success of all Americans. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the Obama-Clinton climate agenda will cost the United States more than $5 trillion. We cannot afford to allow the Obama-Clinton policies of high energy costs and overreaching regulations to continue any longer.
Clinton: I reject the false choice between addressing global climate change and meeting our country’s energy needs. Over the past seven years, wind power has grown threefold and solar power 30-fold. Domestic energy production has grown by 20 percent and U.S. carbon dioxide emissions are at their lowest level in more than two decades. There have been no major reliability issues, and electricity prices have fallen by 10 percent for American families and businesses in real terms.
While some climate deniers and defeatists doubt American ingenuity and entrepreneurialism, the past seven years have demonstrated we are fully up to the task.
Domestically-produced natural gas has played a critical role in reducing carbon dioxide and other pollutants, helping to put the United States in a strong negotiating position at the Paris climate conference. The shift from coal to natural gas also has yielded significant public health benefits, avoiding thousands of premature deaths and more than 100,000 asthma attacks in 2015 alone.
With the right safeguards in place, natural gas can help meet our 2025 international climate commitment in a way that keeps us on track to achieve a greater than 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
In June 2015, the EPA released a four-year-long study that concluded hydraulic fracturing had “no widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources.” That has been corroborated by a variety of institutions ranging from the U.S. Geological Survey to academia. At the same time, by one count, state officials enacted more than 80 regulations on well cementing and casing between 2009 and 2013 to protect groundwater. Do you believe public concern about fracturing is overblown? What should be the federal government’s role in regulating hydraulic fracturing?
Trump: I support hydraulic fracturing as a safe and proven technique for energy production in the United States. I also was pleased that the citizens of Colorado rejected proposed anti-fracturing ballot measures.
The amazing success of shale gas production in the United States depends on safe hydraulic fracturing. Sadly, Hillary Clinton has said, “(B)y the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where (fracturing) will continue to take place.”
Clinton’s anti-fracturing policies would be economically devastating. My administration will pursue an America First energy plan that unleashes the vast energy resources of this nation for the benefit of the American people, bringing more jobs and a stronger economy.
Clinton: Natural gas has an important role to play in the transition to a clean energy economy, provided the right safeguards are in place. To capture the climate benefits of shifting from coal and oil to natural gas, fugitive methane emissions must be addressed.
I will work to achieve the (Obama) administration’s goal of reducing methane emissions by 40-45 percent through standards for both new and existing sources. I will ensure new natural gas pipelines are built to the highest standards, and repair or replace thousands of miles of leaky pipes by the end of my first term. I will work with Congress to eliminate the Halliburton loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act.
I will follow the lead of states such as Texas, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming in requiring that all companies disclose the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing, have in place robust well casing requirements, and improve wastewater recycling and disposal practices. And I will ensure that systems and permitting procedures are in place to avoid potential induced seismic activity, directing the USGS to improve states’ knowledge of local geology in order to more effectively reduce risks.
As 2016 began, nearly 100 federal rule makings were pending that affected oil and natural gas development and transportation, both onshore and off. These ranged from well construction standards and blowout protection, to methane emissions, wastewater management, ozone, pipeline safety and spill response. What are your beliefs regarding the appropriate level of regulation for the oil and gas industry? Should federal agencies be required to disclose all scientific data used in regulatory proceedings? Do you believe federal cost/benefit analyses give ample weight to the societal benefits of ample supplies of affordable energy?
Trump: Our nation’s regulatory system is completely broken. Terrible rules are written by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who often know nothing about the people they are regulating. The regulators have all the power. We have too many costly, burdensome, and unwise regulations that are bad for Americans and do little or no good.
As President, I will work with Congress to reform our regulatory system. We will reduce the power of government bureaucrats. We will increase transparency and accountability in the regulatory process. Rational cost/benefit tests will be used to ensure that any regulation is justified before it is adopted.
Under the Obama-Clinton administration, an unprecedented number of new regulations have been issued. As president, I will direct my administration to conduct a full review of all the Obama rules and executive actions. I will rescind or change any that are unjustified. This includes unlawful regulations such as the Clean Power Plan and the waters of the United States rule.
Clinton: The United States has a proud bipartisan tradition of cost/benefit analysis in the regulatory process. For example, between when the Clean Air Act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970 and when it was expanded by President George H.W. Bush in 1990, common-sense pollution protections delivered $22.5 trillion in cumulative economic and public health benefits, with benefits exceeding costs 42-to-1.
As President, I will build on this tradition by making sure regulatory actions deliver net benefits to the American people.
Enacted in 1973 to protect animal and plant species at risk of extinction, many believe the Endangered Species Act has devolved into a litigation tool used to stop not only oil and gas, but agricultural and other industrial development around the country. Do you believe the ESA is functioning today as originally intended? What reforms, if any, would you propose as president?
Trump: America is blessed with abundant natural resources and beautiful wildlife. Our nation has a proud tradition of conservation and stewardship. Regrettably, as implemented by bureaucrats in Washington, the Endangered Species Act has a poor track record of actually helping to recover animals at risk of extinction.
In truth, the ESA has become a tool to block economic development, deny property rights to American landowners, and enrich activist groups and lawyers through “sue-and-settle” sweetheart deals. Instead of saving endangered species, the Obama-Clinton bureaucrats are endangering American workers with disastrous choices made at the whim of extreme activist groups.
As president, I will direct the Department of Interior and Commerce Department to conduct a top-down review of all Obama administration settlements, rules, and executive actions under the Endangered Species Act and similar laws, and we will change or rescind any of those actions that are unlawful, bad for American workers, or not in the national interest.
I also will work closely with Congress to improve and modernize the Endangered Species Act–a law that is now more than 30 years old–so that it is more transparent, uses the best science, incentivizes species conservation, protects private property rights, and no longer imposes needless and unwarranted costs on American landowners.
Clinton: I believe we should be doing more to slow and reverse the decline of at-risk wildlife species before they reach the brink of extinction and need the protection of the Endangered Species Act. To this end, I will propose nearly doubling the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program to $100 million a year. This type of support for the voluntary conservation of at-risk wildlife can help reduce the need for species to receive the protections of the Endangered Species Act.
For wildlife that are listed as threatened or endangered, I will direct federal agencies to take full advantage of the flexible tools available under the Endangered Species Act that respect and accommodate landowner interests, including safe harbor agreements, habitat conservation agreements, and other forms of voluntary conservation agreements.
Between 2009 and 2014, natural gas production on federally controlled lands declined 35 percent and crude oil production was flat. In the same period, gas production on state and private lands was up 43 percent and oil production rose 88 percent. Currently, less than 10 percent of the BLM’s federally managed surface and mineral estates are leased for oil and gas development, and 87 percent of our nation’s offshore acreage is off-limits to development. Do you believe resource development is being given adequate consideration in government management of multiple-use lands? Would you revisit the 2017-22 OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program, which proposes no lease sales on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, Eastern Gulf of Mexico, or Arctic Ocean?
Trump: I believe the federal government is doing a very poor job making proper use of the significant energy resources on federal lands and offshore areas. My administration will implement an America First energy plan. This will include expanding energy production in offshore areas and on federal lands.
Clinton: I believe our public lands and waters can be an engine of a 21st Century clean energy economy. That is why I have set a goal of expanding renewable energy production on public lands and waters 10-fold within 10 years of taking office–from wind in Wyoming to solar in Arizona to geothermal in Nevada. This will create good-paying jobs, and provide new sources of economic activity and tax revenue to local communities.
As we expand renewable energy development on public lands, we also need to reform fossil fuel leasing. I support President Obama’s review of the federal coal program, and will see it through to completion. I oppose offshore oil and gas development in the Arctic and Atlantic. I will reform onshore coal, oil, and gas leases to ensure taxpayers are getting a fair deal, raising royalty rates–which lag the rates on state and private lands–and close loopholes. And I will ensure that new leasing decisions account for the accelerating pace of the clean energy transition so taxpayers are protected as the U.S. and global energy markets change.