FACT-CHECKING DONALD TRUMP’S LOW-OCTANE ENERGY POLICY

May 31, 2016 by

Environment

We take a look at the emissions and omissions from the GOP nominee-apparent’s ‘America First’ energy address.

Donald Trump doesn’t plan on reducing US fossil fuel use, despite phenomena like the storm surge that Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and parts of NYC’s five boroughs experienced during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. (Photo by Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

Time was, picturing what Donald Trump’s presidential energy policies might look like required parsing his fact-defying tweets, forehead slap-worthy comments and threats to seize Middle Eastern oil by force. Now that the presumptive Republican nominee has unveiled his “America First” energy policy, there’s less guesswork to do.

“We’re going to have all sorts of energy,” Trump declared when he parachuted into Bismarck, North Dakota, on Thursday to deliver his keynote speech at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference. Having just learned that North Dakota’s Republicans had bagged him the final delegates he technically needed to secure the GOP presidential nomination, his mood was upbeat and he exuded even more confidence than usual.

Without saying how he’d accomplish such things, Trump said he’d rescind the nation’s commitment to the global climate deal reached in Paris and roll back regulations and restrictions on oil, gas and coal production.

Reality check: His throwback fantasy is immune to the dynamics of science, diplomacy and markets. It misrepresents the federal government’s role in the oil and gas boom that coincided with the Obama administration. It mischaracterizes the potential of fossil fuel investments like the Keystone XL pipeline to generate jobs and profits when most Canadian and US oil prices remain below their break-even point despite rebounding to the $50-a-barrel mark hours before he spoke.

Trump miscast climate change as a “phony” concern and the coal industry’s demise as a political plot rather than a global development driven by weak demand in the face of cheaper alternatives and the kind of shoddy management that landed former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship behind bars.

In Trump’s parallel universe, we ought to deliberately boost fossil fuel production to transport our nation into a promised land of energy independence — an altered state where we’d never again rely on imports from “the OPEC oil cartel or any nations hostile to our interest.”

Trump sees no reason to leave an ounce of coal or a drop of oil in the ground.

In short, Trump sees no reason to leave an ounce of coal or a drop of oil in the ground. He sees no contradiction between going full-throttle on dirty energy and tackling “real environmental challenges” like improving air and water quality after having met his goal of dismantling the EPA.

Trump leans heavily for guidance on these issues on the two men who introduced him at the keynote, oil and gas tycoon Harold Hamm (who gave nearly $1 million to the super PAC backing Mitt Romney in 2012) and climate denialist Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND). In fact, he leans on them so heavily that the relationship may constitute plagiarism. As The Guardian reported, some passages from the candidate’s remarks were pulled almost verbatim from a Grand Forks Herald op-ed bylined by Cramer. So it was no surprise that Trump said little about renewable energy during his address other than to suggest that it’s worse for the environment than fossil fuels, which “are working much better.”

During the press conference beforehand, at which the candidate was flanked by North Dakota Trump delegates, he dismissed wind and solar energy as newfangled fads. In reality, they’ve been the world’s leading source of newly installed electric power since 2013.

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