05.31.2017 0

Coal and nuclear must play an increased role in our energy future, so time to exit Paris Climate Accord

By Rick Manning

As originally published at http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/energy-environment/335731-coal-and-nuclear-must-play-a-bigger-role-in-americas

President Donald Trump needs to remind those who work for his administration who is in charge.  The repeated on and off the record comments that contradict his policies by those who surround him are undermining his ability to not only accomplish his promises but even to credibly set his Administration’s agenda.

The latest distraction was offered by former Goldman Sachs CEO Gary Cohn, who the President allows to serve as his Director of the National Economic Council.

Cohn met with reporters on the flight to the G-7 meeting which includes the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the U.S. and the European Union, where the issue of the Paris Climate Treaty was a hot topic.

Trump’s assistant denigrated the President’s position with respect to energy development with his attack on coal as a viable energy source saying, “Coal doesn’t even make that much sense anymore as a feedstock.”

The remarks in advance of meetings where the President was going to be confronted by other leaders anxious to get him to embrace the prior administration’s U.S. economy destroying Paris Climate Treaty deliberately undermined Trump. Fortunately, the President didn’t back down in the face of enormous pressure from these world leaders, but no thanks to his staff.

If lifelong Democrat Gary Cohn wants to be President, he can take his big bank resume back to New York City, build his own campaign and try to convince the Bernie Sanders dominated Party of his choice to nominate him. But as long as he works for a President who campaigned and won in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia largely due to his support for the resource extraction industry, Cohn should avoid talking to the media about his opinions on energy.  When you work for an elected official, you get the ability to share your opinions internally, but waive the right to share them publicly when they are not in sync with your boss’, in this case, the President’s.

Cohn was right on one thing, natural gas is going to play a large role in America’s energy future, but it won’t and shouldn’t replace coal.  Natural gas depends upon pipelines and is not easily storable making it significantly less reliable than coal which is easy to store and warehouse, a tremendous advantage in an era when both environmental radicals and Islamist jihadists threaten the soft targets that pipelines represent.

The national security implications of natural gas supply disruptions without having a large amount of our nation’s electricity grid fueled by reliable and available coal or nuclear power are frightening given its interconnectivity and stretched capacity.

As a globalist travelling in Europe, Cohn must have noticed the vulnerability of what was once known as Western Europe to disruptions of natural gas pipelines from Russia. As Ukraine remains a hot spot between Russia and NATO countries, many in Europe worry that their dependency on Russian natural gas makes them vulnerable to energy blackmail.

Yet, Europe itself ignores the energy beneath its own feet in a willful blindness. Germany is rich with coal and the economic certainty it provides.  Yet, Germany would rather import most of the limited coal they use, and is in the process of ending its nuclear power generation capability by 2022 increasing their dependency on Russian natural gas, even as they intellectualize the potentially devastating effects of that dependency.

In the United States, President Trump made it clear on the campaign trail last year that the war on coal was over in his administration, and many of his actions have demonstrated his commitment to coal and nuclear as a large and expanded part of our national energy security plan.

After Cohn’s ill-advised opinions, the President wisely stood up to the G-7 leaders who sought to push him to a so-called “climate deal.” Now, he needs to tell his own staff, that they need to follow his lead, or find another job. In order for Trump to succeed, he needs his own White House pushing his policies, setting a clear direction for Congress and others to follow.

Gary Cohn is just the latest White House aide who forgot that they didn’t sit behind the Resolute desk in the Oval Office.  For the nation’s sake, let’s hope that Cohn is the last to speak out of turn. The administration needs to set an unambiguous, coherent, forward-looking economic policy that puts our nation on a course toward true full employment and roaring economic growth, turning the corner from the worst growth in U.S. history that we have endured over the past decade.

A good start would be for the President to withdraw from the Paris Climate Treaty immediately.  This should be followed by his Energy Secretary, Rick Perry, aggressively engaging in policies which re-energize the coal and nuclear electricity generation options creating a true “all of the above” strategy.

Electricity generation is both an economic and national security priority. President Trump needs to ignore out of touch advisors like Gary Cohn and put American energy security first by emphasizing stable, reliable and resilient electricity generating sources.

Rick Manning is the President of Americans for Limited Government.

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