President-elect Trump has said that he will make the American energy industry independent even if that means reversing the energy regulations priorities adopted by President Obama as part of an incentive system to curb global warming.
Although the exact changes to energy policies are yet to be seen, the campaign promises provide a possible road-map:
- Trump has said that he will roll back regulations that are damaging the coal industry. It could mean ignoring the Paris Climate Accord and the controversial Clean Power Plan, which both aims at drastically decreasing carbon emissions.
- Trump has said that U.S. has enough oil to last 285 years. It’s “there for the taking” he added. It means that new areas could open for drilling, including the Pacific, Atlantic, and parts of Alaska.
- Trump told voters that the U.S. has enough natural gas to “power America’s energy needs for the next 110 years.” He’s a supporter of natural gas fracking on federal lands, contrary to Obama.
- Obama was pressurized by environmental allies to oppose fossil fuel projects, but Trump supports both Keystone XL pipelines and North Dakota Access.
- Trump said that “he was all in for alternative forms of energy” talking about solar and the wind, but added that it is “just an expensive way to make tree huggers feel good about themselves.” It’s unlikely that renewables will get a favored position under Trump, but he’s mostly neutral on that front.
Renewables now provide more than 30 percent of the electricity to ten states. States have also taken the initiative whereby utilities have to get an increasing amount of their power from renewables.
Rob Bishop, R-Utah who is the chairman of the House Natural Resource Committee, says that it will be up to Trump to rewrite America’s energy blueprint. Trump would have to negotiate with Democrats and environmental lobby to make changes to the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Protection Act to allow more drilling.
Reviving the coal industry will be a difficult task as many key coal towns in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania have moved on to renewables as utilities have signed long-term energy contracts with new providers. Coal is also losing market to natural gas, which is cheaper and cleaner.
Coal used to provide half of America’s electricity eight years ago, the figure is down to 31 percent now and falling.
People are still hopeful in the small mining town of Hotchkiss, Colorado. The Mayor Wendell Koontz said that ““It is not just the coal itself, it is the downstream value to our economy, to our people to our community.”
Koontz used to work in the Oxbow mine and saw the site getting closed this year along with many other sites nearby. He saw more than 1200 coal jobs disappear in one year.
Mike Ludlow, President of Oxbow Mining Company, said:-
The shut-down of a lot of coal plants and the loss of market is due to regulation that restricted emissions from coal-fired plants. It is a combination of that and cheap natural gas.