Trump Vows Changes in Nation’s Energy, Climate Policies

Published December 16, 2016

In the months leading up to Donald Trump’s victory in the November presidential election, his public statements highlighted many differences with President Barack Obama on energy and climate policy.

In a fact sheet released by the White House on September 21, 2016, Obama called climate change “an urgent and growing threat to our national security.” To reduce the threat of climate change, Obama approved the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, requiring states to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. He also approved the Paris Agreement, which requires the United States to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

Canceling Climate Commitments, Regulations

In a September 21, 2015, appearance on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show, Trump said, “I’m not a believer in manmade global warming. I mean, Obama thinks it’s the number-one problem of the world today, and I think it’s very low on the list. … We have much bigger problems.”

Trump has vowed to “cancel” U.S. participation in the Paris climate accord. Trump has also committed to scrapping EPA’s Clean Power Plan and reviewing and possibly reversing EPA’s determination carbon-dioxide is a pollutant endangering public and environmental health, commonly called the “endangerment finding.”

Reversing the endangerment finding would remove the legal justification for most climate regulations.

Before the election, Trump said he would reverse Obama administration rules imposing undue burdens on businesses. In particular, Trump said he would cut EPA’s budget dramatically and review all EPA regulations, eliminating many because, as he stated in his response to a survey of presidential candidates by the American Energy Alliance in April 2016, “Over-regulation presents one of the greatest barriers to entry into markets and one of the greatest costs to businesses that are trying to stay competitive.”

In Trump’s Contract with the American Voter, he pledges to “lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas, and clean coal, lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, such as the Keystone [XL] Pipeline, to move forward, cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs, and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure.”

‘Very Much Pro-Energy’

Dan Simmons, vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research, says a Trump presidency will likely be good for the energy industry.

“President-elect Trump has been very clear he is very much pro-energy,” said Simmons. “During a Trump administration, we will see federal lands and waters opened for energy production and a quick end to the coal-leasing moratorium on federal lands.


“We should also see a reduction of subsidies for inefficient sources of energy production, like wind and solar,” Simmons said. “Lastly, the Trump administration will work to review and likely reset all of the regulations on greenhouse-gas emissions.”

‘Americans Had Enough’

Paul Driessen, a senior policy analyst with the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, says Trump’s victory shows many among the public were tired of politicians ignoring their need and desire for affordable energy.

“This election shows hardworking Americans in what the media and ruling classes dismissively refer to as ‘flyover country’ finally had enough of unelected, unaccountable Washington, DC bureaucrats dictating every aspect of our lives,” Driessen said. “The American people want President Obama’s power-grabbing, energy-strangling, economy-crushing legacy to end.

“The Paris climate treaty will be repudiated and delusions and assertions about ‘dangerous manmade climate change’ will no longer dictate our energy, economic, and national defense decisions,” said Driessen. “America will again produce and utilize the fossil-fuel blessings that lifted billions out of poverty, disease, and early death and created jobs, prosperity, health, living standards, and lifespans unimaginable barely a century ago.”

Lord Christopher Monckton, a former advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, says the United States can easily end its participation in the Paris climate agreement.

“The quickest way for the United States to end participation in the Paris Agreement is to withdraw from the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change,” said Monckton. “Article 25 of the UNFCCC allows any state party to it to withdraw from the convention without further obligation of any kind upon giving one year’s notice.

“The Paris climate accord stipulates anyone who secedes from UNFCCC secedes ipso facto from the Paris accord,” Monckton said. “The quickest formal route for Mr. Trump to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement is, on his inauguration day, to formally offer the required one year’s notice of secession from the UNFCC.”

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is a research fellow with The Heartland Institute.