This column by ACRU Senior Fellow and Policy Board member J. Kenneth Blackwell was published June 27, 2017 by Townhall.
This week, the President is scheduled to talk extensively about U.S. energy policy and the administration’s push for “energy dominance” at a time when oil giants like OPEC are looking more fragile than ever. The President and his team are putting in place policies to continue the boom in domestic energy and turn America into an energy exporter with fewer limits and regulations on American energy production.
Early in the Trump presidency, it’s clear that some of the administration’s most significant successes have come in the form of removing harmful energy regulations. The Energy Independence Executive Order, the elimination of the Stream Protection Rule, and the extension of the National Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone, are each major actions designed to combat the rampant federal overreach that average American’s have dealt with for the past eight years.
Economic growth in the U.S. is dependent on a vibrant energy infrastructure and a regulatory environment which supports businesses. Halfway through 2017, the United States’ economy is looking strong. Job growth, employment and wage growth all show significant increases. Consumer confidence and economic optimism both jumped to nine-year highs as people are finally starting to feel some financial security.
Energy is one of the largest drivers of economic revenue in the country. It’s also one of the greatest sources of jobs. 6.4 million Americans work in the traditional energy and energy efficiency industries. These industries added 300,000 new jobs over the course of 2016 and represented approximately 14% of the nation’s job growth. We have a bounty of resources in America. Petroleum, natural gas, and coal account for more than 75% of our energy consumption. These fuels are used to support transportation and industrial projects while keeping utility prices low.
President Trump is successfully fighting back against the web of damaging regulations put in place by the Obama administration. Instead of utilizing our vast resources to bring economic prosperity to America, politicians decided to wage war on the energy industry. Over the course of Obama’s presidency, the EPA published thousands of complex regulations — The Clean Power Plan, EPA Regional Haze Goals, and EPA Emissions Standards among them — as a series of ideological barriers which worked to undermine the energy infrastructure in resource-rich states.
The Clean Power Plan, for example, would have required North Dakota to reduce its carbon dioxide emission rate by 44.9%, even though North Dakota is one of only 12 states that achieves all of EPA’s air quality standards for public health. Even if all industry was shut down in the state, the EPA Regional Haze goals would still be impossible to achieve.
Energy regulations are needed, but let’s be clear, none of these even make a dent in the effort to curb emissions. Its limited environmental gain for real economic pain. The Clean Power Plan, is projected to reduce global CO2 emissions by a mere 1.8% by 2030 and forestall global warming by 0.019 degrees Celsius over the next 83 years. This negligible difference is nowhere near worth the $39 billion price tag for consumers and businesses.
Beyond businesses, it’s the poor and the elderly that are hit the hardest. States will see increases in energy costs, Wisconsin, for example, under the Clean Power Plan would increase the average electricity prices by nearly 20 percent. That will affect whether or not someone could heat their home or put food on the table.
The Trump administration has embraced a top down and bottom up approach designed to dismantle the government-wide architecture put in place by the Obama team who viewed virtually every action or policy through the lens of its impact on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
Take the revisions to the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone. The EPA under President Obama lowered the mandated standard to 70 parts per billion, and in doing so, effectively destroyed tens of thousands of jobs across the country. Areas that wouldn’t be able to meet this new standards would face the threat of “increased regulatory burdens, restrictions on infrastructure investment, and increased costs to businesses,” according to the EPA. Replacing open threats with genuine cooperation, the Trump administration has decided to work with the states so they can address their environmental responsibilities without devastating their economies. Just earlier this month, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that they will extend deadlines for the 2015 Ozone area designations and “will continue to work with states to ensure they are on a path to compliance”.
During this energy week, I applaud the president for taking a stand and supporting access to affordable energy. A push for U.S. dominance in the energy space is better for the average American’s wallet and our national security interests. The Trump administration is doing something from which we all benefit– unleashing America’s energy industry.