Editorial: Trump’s promising energy landscape
The nation’s energy and environmental future has been a significant focus of President Barack Obama’s time in office. But backlash against those policies that cost jobs and slowed the economic comeback will no doubt shape President-elect Donald Trump’s energy vision.
Trump’s picks to lead the Energy Department and Environmental Protection Agency signal he intends to reverse many of the more onerous regulations Obama championed.
The left decries the nominee as an affront to the seriousness of climate change. And Trump’s picks — former Texas Gov. Rick Perry for the Department of Energy and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for the Environmental Protection Agency — do suggest these agencies will take more moderate positions on energy and environmental policy. But they are not likely to throw out everything Obama put in place, or to be aloof to global warming.
That’s good news for what has become the most vital sector of the U.S. economy over the past decade. The energy renaissance — which has come about thanks largely to technological advancements with hydraulic fracturing and the shale revolution — has ushered in new business growth, increases in GDP and an energy security the country has rarely known.
A significant piece of energy legislation died this year in Congress, and there likely won’t be a new bill next session. That will free up Perry and Pruitt, pending their confirmations, to focus on reviewing the regulations enacted under the Obama administration.
Pruitt has been one of the leaders in the legal fight against the Clean Power Plan, enacted by executive fiat, calling it an affront to states’ rights.
He will likely push to overturn the mandate, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the intent of the Clean Power Plan will die. Market forces have and will continue to encourage energy providers to transition to natural gas and renewables like wind, and away from coal, regardless of federal regulations.
In fact, the plan calls for coal to produce just 27 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030, with natural gas at 33 percent. But already this year, natural gas will provide 34 percent of U.S. electricity and coal 30 percent.
Pruitt also secured an injunction blocking the EPA’s expansion of the Waters of the U.S. rule, which extended the agency’s jurisdiction to regulate virtually every stream, pond and puddle in the country. It’s likely that rule could be remanded back to the agency and ultimately revoked.
The appointment of of Perry to head the Energy Department has made some apoplectic. But he’s a wise choice.
Perry was the longest-serving governor of the nation’s leading oil and gas producing state. During Perry’s tenure, oil production in Texas surged by 260 percent and natural gas production by 50 percent.
Perry also encouraged record economic growth in his state through a low-tax, low-regulation environment.
He allowed fracking to expand, and pushed federal leaders to speed up a plan to permit natural gas exports.
At the same time, he expanded the state’s wind energy programs, signing legislation that required Texas to increase its renewable energy capacity.
The U.S. has serious energy potential, and the sector can help lift the rest of the economy. Trump seems intent on unleashing that potential.