12.26.2017 0

Trump Delivers Energy Policy Wins

By Richard McCarty

After nearly a year in office, President Donald Trump has established an enviable record of restoring opportunity and unlocking the nation’s potential. One of his most obvious areas of success has been in the energy sector. For years, US leaders have talked about energy independence or energy security, but Trump thinks much bigger and advocates for “energy dominance.”

Earlier this year, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt wrote an op-ed explaining what energy dominance means.

“An energy-dominant America means a self-reliant and secure nation, free from the geopolitical turmoil of other nations that seek to use energy as an economic weapon. An energy-dominant America will export to markets around the world, increasing our global leadership and influence. Becoming energy dominant means that we are getting government out of the way so that we can share our energy wealth with developing nations.”

Interior Secretary Zinke has a key role to play in Trump’s efforts to increase US energy production. As Interior Secretary, he is responsible for managing hundreds of millions of acres of public lands and well over a billion acres offshore. According to the Department, 30% of the nation’s energy is produced in areas under its management. Fortunately, for consumers, the unemployed, and the underemployed, Zinke is intent upon implementing Trump’s energy and jobs agenda.

Shortly after his confirmation, Zinke lifted a moratorium on new coal-mining leases on federal lands, which had been put in place by the Obama Administration. This past summer, Zinke rescinded a rule that would have increased costs for companies that mine coal in federal lands. In October, the Interior Department announced the largest oil and gas lease sale in US history will take place next spring.

In addition to the work of his subordinates, Trump is personally taking action to move our country toward energy dominance. Responding to the wishes of Utah’s leaders, Trump slashed the size of two national monuments designated by two of his Democrat predecessors reducing the size of Bears Ears National Monument by over 80% and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by nearly half. Both monuments contain vast quantities of natural resources.

Bill Clinton’s sudden designation of the 1.88 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 1996 enraged many Utahns. One of the reasons for this anger was that a company had been planning to create hundreds of coal-mining jobs there, which were, unsurprisingly, killed by the designation.

Barack Obama designated the 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument in the waning days of his Administration. As was the case with Grand Staircase-Escalante, elected officials in Utah disapproved of the establishment of Bears Ears.

Under Obama, leftists descended on North Dakota to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Administration delayed its construction. Shortly after Trump was sworn in, he signed a memorandum expediting the approval process for the pipeline. Within days, the US Army Corps of Engineers granted the necessary easement for the completion of the pipeline. Several months later, the pipeline was completed, tested, and opened for commercial operation.

Furthermore, Trump’s signature on the recently-passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act bill will finally deliver another energy policy victory. For two decades, Republicans have fought to develop some of the energy resources in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and one of the provisions of the tax cut bill paves the way for that to occur.

Whether it can be tied directly to Trump’s policies or not, the energy sector is certainly seeing growth. For example, coal production is up 8%, and coal exports are up 68%. Domestic oil production is also up over last year, the International Energy Agency expects that US production will increase further next year, and oil exports are up by more than 56% over last year.

The past year has been filled with energy policy wins as Trump and his Administration have worked to deliver on his promises; and the best part is that the Administration is just getting started.

Richard McCarty is the Director of Research at Americans for Limited Government Foundation

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