This Wolf Came as Dressed as a Wolf

Trump’s views on energy & environment were clear before the election. He’s doing what he said.

In terms of energy and environmental issues, Trump has turned out to be as advertised. Last June, I did a post contrasting Clinton and Trump’s views about the environment. Below, I revisit the June post in order to compare what Trump said before Election Day and what he’s done since. In case you’ve forgotten, Clinton’s position on each of these issues was the opposite of Trump’s. No matter how you voted in the last election — or whether or not you voted at all — you can’t really say that Trump’s actions as President have blindsided you. By and large, he has lived up to his promises, with little movement toward the center during the general election campaign or in the White House.

Is climate change real?

PRE-ELECTION: “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps, and our GW scientists are stuck in ice.” [tweet]

PRESIDENCY: Trump’s executive orders have not called for reexamination of EPA’s endangerment finding. And the current Administration line is that the climate actually is changing and human activities are a contributing factor. But he and Scott Pruitt, his EPA Administrator, continue to express doubts about whether CO2 emissions are the major cause of climate change. Given what he said in his tweet about “global warming scientists,” it’s not a surprise that his proposed budget eliminates pretty much all government research on climate change.

Support Clean Power Plan?

PRE-ELECTION: Attacks Obama for “Draconian climate rules that, unless stopped, would effectively bypass Congress to impose job-killing cap-and-trade.” [5/26/16 speech]

PRESIDENCY: Trump issued an executive order telling EPA to reconsider the rule. He also appointed a lawyer who had litigated against the rule as head of EPA.

Support Keystone XL pipeline?

PRE-ELECTION: “But President Obama has done everything he can to keep us dependent on others. Let me list some of the good energy projects he killed. He rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline . . . “ “I’m going to ask Trans Canada to renew its permit application for the Keystone Pipeline.” [5/26/16 speech]

PRESIDENCY: Pipeline permit has been approved.

Drill in Arctic?

PRE-ELECTION: “[Obama has] taken huge percentage of the Alaska petroleum – and you take the reserve; he’s taken if off the table.” [Alaska Dispatch News)]

PRESIDENCY: The Trump Administration is reportedly seeking ways to open the Arctic to drilling, although the industry is unenthusiastic about the idea given the low price of oil these days.

Support Paris Agreement?

PRE-ELECTION: “This agreement gives foreign bureaucrats control over how much energy we use right now in America. . . .We’re going to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs.” [5/26/16 energy speech]

PRESIDENCY: The proposed budget does indeed zero out all payments to UN global warming programs. But so far, there has been conspicuous silence about the Paris Agreement, apparently due to vigorous lobbying by Rex Tillerson and Ivanka Trump to keep the U.S. in the agreement.

Incentives for renewables?

PRE-ELECTION: “We will get the bureaucracy out of the way of innovation, so we can pursue all forms of energy. This includes renewable energies and the technologies of the future. It includes nuclear, wind and solar energy – but not to the exclusion of other energy. The government should not pick winners and losers. Instead, it should remove obstacles to exploration.” [5/26/16 speech] “The problem with solar is it’s very expensive. When you have a 30-year payback, that’s not exactly the greatest thing in the world. . . . Without subsidy, wind doesn’t work. . . If you go to various places in California, wind is killing all of the eagles. [T]he windmills are killing hundreds and hundreds of eagles. One of the most beautiful, one of the most treasured birds and they’re killing them by the hundreds and nothing happens. So wind is a problem.” [Fox News]

PRESIDENCY: Trump has not yet taken any action regarding renewables subsidies enacted by Congress. He has signaled his attitude toward renewables, however, by slashing energy efficiency and renewable energy programs in the Department of Energy. In the meantime, support for the coal industry seems to be a major Administration priority.

Despite Trump’s well-deserved reputation for frequent policy shifts, that doesn’t seem to have been true in this arena.  It’s pretty much been a case of “what you see is what you get.”

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

READ more