Trump Administration Will Bring Huge Reform to Energy and Environment

President-elect Donald Trump will bring with him a starkly different policy vision on energy and the environment than his predecessor. In the spirit of “draining the swamp,” the Trump-Pence administration will likely abandon the Obama administration’s economically harmful — and environmentally pointless — regulations in favor of ones that promote job creation and energy affordability and reliability.

First on the chopping block will be the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, a rule forcing states to cut carbon emissions. The president-elect was vocal on the campaign trail about repealing this harmful rule, and his running mate blocked its implementation in Indiana as governor. Other prime targets include the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ so-called “Waters of the United States” rule and the EPA’s ground-level ozone rule, which been similarly unworkable in the states and challenged in the courts. All three of these regulations wildly increase D.C.’s control over the private economy and have been shown to have substantial harms to hardworking families.

The U.S. also has several ways to exit the Paris agreement on climate change, and it will be interesting to see which route the president-elect chooses. Perhaps he will use executive action to withdraw or perhaps he will submit it to the Senate to die on the floor. Withdrawing from the Paris agreement will be in the best interest of the U.S. because it would require extreme policy changes that would harm overall economic growth, especially in the manufacturing sector. Like the other regulations instituted by President Barack Obama, the Paris agreement is projected to have little effect on the overall environment.

Trump could approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which has been blocked for political reasons by Obama with the support from the radical environmental community. Of course, approving this particular pipeline is not a panacea — Trump could and should streamline permitting processes that would benefit other pipeline projects in other parts of the country. Encouraging natural resources development would be another way to boost domestic energy development.

Repealing the EPA renewable fuel standard is one opportunity on the horizon, although it didn’t get much attention on the campaign trail. The mandate, which requires refiners to blend certain amounts of biofuel into gasoline, is essentially a corporate welfare for the corn ethanol industry and has resulted in little innovation in renewable fuels.

Carbon taxes will be off the table for the foreseeable future, and wisely so, given the costs that they would impose with little environmental benefit. Opposition from the president-elect and a bipartisan majority in Congress signals a continued resistance to this tax that would make life more expensive for nearly every American family.

Speaking of taxes, Trump’s interest in engaging in comprehensive tax reform would also have implications on energy issues. Cleaning up the tax code would involve eliminating tax provisions benefiting special interests in renewable energy industries. A good start would be getting rid of the main handout for the wind energy industry, the wind production tax credit, which has failed to deliver on its promises of long-term job creation and economic viability since being created more than 20 years ago. More broadly, all energy handouts and subsidies — including for fossil fuels — could and should be eliminated under President Trump.

These are only a few of the policies Trump should pursue as president. There are others, too. No matter which ones he pursues, however, they all share one thing in common: They are a departure from the Washington-first, Americans-last approach that has characterized energy and environmental policy for the past eight years. It’s time for an energy policy strategy that unleashes America’s potential and benefits everyone for generations to come.


Christine Harbin is director of federal affairs and strategic initiatives for Americans for Prosperity, the nation’s largest conservative grassroots organization.

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