In the wake of the election, speculation is circulating about the effects a Trump presidency will have on the energy industry. What programs will be cut? Who will lead key agencies? Which policies will take priority? The only certainty, it seems, is that nothing is certain.
Throughout his campaign President-elect Trump was vocal about his desire to reduce the role of the EPA to an advisory one. His appointment of Myron Ebell to lead his US EPA transition team has already made a powerful statement.
Ebell, a critic of “climate change alarmism,” is director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute. He has criticized the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan for greenhouse gases and has called Obama joining the Paris climate treaty “an unconstitutional usurpation of the Senate’s authority.”
A number of energy executives have predicted that Trump will make quick work of scrapping the Paris Climate Accord, while others foresee him immediately axing the Clean Power Plan. And then there are other regulations that could be cancelled like the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) that regulate coal power pollution and the EPA’s new source pollution rules, which govern emissions from new power plants.
The latest industry consensus is, however, that renewable energy programs are somewhat secure. While the President-elect may face little opposition in repealing the Clean Power Plan and pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Accord, repealing the tax breaks that support the growth of solar and wind power would pose a significant legislative challenge. In fact, insiders believe that what’s more likely than an assault on renewable energy, is the Trump administration’s unreserved support of fossil fuels. And the appointment of Myron Ebell to lead the EPA seems in-line with that belief.
The Obama administration is doing its best, however, to ensure that Trump can’t easily undo the energy agenda that the current President has cultivated. In fact, on November 10th, just two days after the election, it took preventative action by introducing a rule that would create a new leasing program for solar and wind energy programs on public lands.
The New York Times reported that President Obama has asked the Interior Department to approve renewable energy projects in the final days of his presidency that generate 20,000 megawatts of power on public land by 2020. The department has indicated that the rule’s competitive leasing provisions will apply to 700,000 acres of public lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.
The Interior Department explained that the rule would encourage renewable energy on the nation’s public lands while generating significant amounts of revenue. “We are facilitating responsible renewable energy development in the right places, creating jobs, and cutting carbon pollution for the benefit of all Americans,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewell in a statement.
Beyond that, we will have to wait and see what the coming four years hold in store for the energy landscape.
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