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Election: Energy & Environment

Donald Trump

Energy plan: Trump has released An America First Energy Plan, saying "Under my presidency, we will accomplish complete American energy independence." He supports the Keystone XL Pipeline, stating it would create jobs, be safe, and have no significant impact on the environment. He opposes several regulations and policies put forth by the current Administration, stating they "kill the coal industry." For example, he opposes:

  • Regulations that shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants and block construction of new ones.
  • Prohibition against coal production on federal land.
  • Climate rules that would essentially bypass Congress to impose cap-and-trade.

He states that Obama's policies have denied millions of Americans access to energy wealth, destroyed jobs, and weakened our security by keeping us dependent on foreign energy sources. The goal of his energy plan is to "make America wealthy again" by:

  • Declaring American energy dominance as a strategic economic and foreign policy goal.
  • Becoming completely energy independent from the OPEC cartel and any nations that do not share our interests - for example, by working with Gulf allies to develop energy relationship as part of an anti-terrorism strategy.
  • Using energy production revenues to rebuild schools, roads, bridges, and public infrastructure.
  • Removing bureaucracy as a barrier to innovation so the nation can pursue all forms of energy including renewable energies (nuclear, wind, solar) without excluding other energy forms.

His 100-day action plan is to:

  • Rescind Obama's executive actions, including the Climate Action Plan and the Clean Water (Waters of the U.S.) Rule, which would assert EPA authority over small waterways. The House has introduced legislation to block this rule.
  • "Save the coal industry."
  • Ask Trans Canada to renew its permit application for the Keystone Pipeline.
  • Lift moratoriums on energy production in federal areas by revoking policies that restrict new drilling technologies.
  • In a speech at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck, Trump stated, "Any regulation that's outdated, unnecessary, bad for workers or contrary to the national interest will be scrapped and scrapped completely [...] We're going to do all this while taking proper regard for rational environmental concerns. We are going to conserve our beautiful natural habitats, reserves and resources. [...] we will work with conservationists whose only agenda is protecting nature. From an environmental standpoint, my priorities are very simple: clean air and clean water."
  • In accordance with these goals, he promises to eliminate some of the current Administration's most ambitious policies. For example, he promised to cancel the Paris Climate Agreement, back out of the U.N. global climate accord, approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada and remove legislation enacted by President Obama to decrease U.S. emissions and protect waterways from industrial pollution.
  • He will employ a simple "test" to determine the validity of new policies: ask whether they are good for the American worker.

His energy plan is focused on creating "real jobs and real wage growth."

EPA: Trump proposes to cut EPA's budget. During a Republican debate in February, Trump proposed abolishing the EPA altogether. He stated that there is "tremendous cutting" to be done.
Climate change: During a "Fox & Friends" interview, Trump said, "I think that climate change is just a very, very expensive form of tax. A lot of people are making a lot of money." However, according to an article in Politico, Mr. Trump has applied for permission to build a seawall designed to protect one of his golf courses from "global warming and its effects." The application lists increased erosion caused by rising sea levels and extreme weather this century as principal justifications for building the wall.

2016 Republican Party Platform

The Republican Party supports "the opening of public lands and the outer continental shelf to exploration and responsible production." They would like to "do away" with the Clean Power Plan, and plan to finish the Keystone Pipeline and others. On climate change: "Climate change is far from this nation's most pressing national security issue. This is the triumph of extremism over common sense, and Congress must stop it." On energy: "We support the development of all forms of energy that are marketable in a free economy without subsidies, including coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power, and hydropower." Notably, prominent renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, are absent from this list. They support the development of renewable energy sources - wind, solar, biomass, biofuels, geothermal, and tidal energy - by the private sector. The GOP supports the federal judge's decision to strike down the BLM rule on hydraulic fracturing. They support the states' ability to regulate the use of hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling, and methane emissions. They promise to "end the Administration's disregard of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act with respect to the long-term storage of nuclear waste." They promote speeding up the permitting process for mineral production on public lands and lifting restrictions on nuclear energy development. They oppose carbon taxes and promote the private sector to develop carbon capture and sequestration technology. They plan to speed up the energy export terminals blocked at the moment to allow American energy producers to export to foreign markets, especially liquefied natural gas. They promote transferring environmental regulatory power from federal to state jurisdiction and to convert the EPA into an independent, bipartisan commission. They seek to prohibit the EPA from regulating carbon dioxide and restore Congressional authority to set the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. They support universal legislation requiring the federal government to pass specific federally controlled public lands to the states. They reject the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, and promote immediately stopping U.S. funding for the U.N.'s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Green Climate Fund under the 1994 Foreign Relations Authorization Act, which outlaws the government from donating money to "any affiliated organization of the United Nations" that gives Palestinians membership as a state.

Hillary Clinton

Clinton's campaign has set three main national goals: First, she wants to produce enough clean, renewable energy to fully power every home in America by 2026. Second, she promises to cut energy waste by one-third.  Third, she proposes to reduce oil consumption by a third. To accomplish this, she promises to:

  • Construct 500 million solar panels by the end of her first term to generate enough renewable energy to power every U.S. home.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent (at least) of the 2005 levels by the year 2026.
  • Create a $60 billion "Clean Energy Challenge" that includes grants for states that exceed federal carbon pollution standards, establishes a Solar X-Prize for communities that facilitate the installment of solar panels, increases grid reliability and resistance, and expands the Rural Utilities Service.
  • Reduce energy waste in schools, hospitals, and homes by a third within ten years.
  • Decrease American oil consumption by a third through cleaner fuels, more efficient ships, cars, trucks, and boilers.
  • Deliver on President Obama's pledge made at the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December, which she has praised in the past, calling it "ambitious" and "an historic step forward."
  • ​Set the U.S. on the path to reduce emissions by over 80 percent by 2050. This is consistent with the current Administration's set target released to the UNFCCC in March of 2015, which aims to reduce emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025 and 80 percent or more by 2050.
  • Defend, implement, and extend policies including the Clean Power Plan.
  • Reform fossil fuel leasing and significantly increase clean energy production on public lands.
  • End tax subsidies on oil and gas companies.
  • Reduce methane emissions by 40-45 percent via standards for new and current sources. She will guarantee that new natural gas pipelines are built to the highest standards and repair or replace thousands of miles of leaky pipes by the end of her first term.
  • Invest $30 billion to revitalize coal communities to help them transition to renewable energy.
  • Clean up over 450,000 toxic brownfield sites across the nation.
  • Create a new Environmental and Climate Justice Task Force to include environmental and climate justice integral to federal decision-making.

​Clinton supports the Clean Power Plan and promises to implement it effectively and defend it against efforts to subvert it. In 2010, she stated she was inclined to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. In September, 2015, she stated she opposed it. She does not support Arctic drilling.  Clinton is also skeptical about the necessity to pursue offshore drilling and has stated she is not in favor of it. She does not oppose fracking, but states she does oppose "irresponsible use of technology. I oppose a failure to disclose the chemicals. I oppose a lack of monitoring of methane." She would like to see more investments moving towards clean, renewable energy and away from fossil fuels. Clinton supports investigating ExxonMobil following the allegation that scientists concluded in their own studies that climate change is real and misled people about it. Last December, she stated that if the investigation points toward civil or criminal action, she would support it.
Democratic National Convention Speech: "I believe in science. I believe that climate change is real and that we can save our planet while creating millions of good-paying clean energy jobs. [...] I'm proud that we shaped a global climate agreement – now we have to hold every country accountable to their commitments, including ourselves."

At the second Presidential Debate on 9 Oct 2016, Clinton expressed support for the idea that natural gas serves as a "bridge" fuel between a primarily fossil fuel based energy economy to a primarily renewable energy economy.

2016 Democratic Party Platform

The Democrats' platform emphasizes helping American workers and businesses by creating good-paying clean energy jobs; making American manufacturing more internationally competitive by making it the greenest and most efficient in the world, including investing in industrial energy efficiency; and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over 90 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. It advocates for "meet[ing] the promise" made by President Obama during the Paris Agreement, and for enabling America to run entirely on clean energy by mid-century. Democrats also support obtaining 50 percent of our electricity from clean energy sources within a decade; installing half a billion solar panels within our years and enough renewable energy to power every home in the country; cutting energy waste in American homes, schools, hospitals, and offices through energy efficient improvements; modernizing the electric grid; reducing transportation oil consumption through cleaner fuels and vehicle electrification; eliminating special tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuel companies; defending and extending tax incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy; and defending, implementing, and extending pollution and efficiency standards, including the Clean Power Plan, fuel economy standards for automobiles and heavy-duty vehicles, building codes and appliance standards. They seek to expand clean energy R&D. They support taking steps to power the government with 100 percent clean electricity. They advocate for allowing EPA to regulate hydraulic fracturing and guaranteeing safeguards are set to protect local water supplies, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act provisions. They believe hydraulic fracturing should not take place in states and local communities that oppose it. Democrats seek to decrease methane emissions from all oil and gas production and transportation by at least 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 through standards for old and new sources, as well as by replacing leaky pipelines. They support increasing access to cost-saving renewable energy by low-income households, and oppose attempts by utilities to restrict consumer choice or slow down clean energy deployment. They would like to streamline federal permitting to speed the construction of new transmission lines; incentivize wind, solar, and other renewable energy over the development of new natural gas power plants; reject the Keystone XL pipeline; support higher labor standards in clean energy infrastructure; make the eradication of lead poisoning a national priority; and prioritize hiring and training workers from affected communities to clean up toxic brownfields and expand clean energy, energy efficiency, and resilient infrastructure. They would like to hold corporations that do not analyze and disclose the risks they face, including climate risk, accountable; request the Department of Justice to investigate allegations of corporate fraud committed by fossil fuel companies accused of misleading shareholders and the public on the scientific reality of climate change; and work to create an America Parks Trust Fund to help augment local, state, and national recreational opportunities, rehabilitate existing parks, and improve the nation's outdoors. They oppose drilling in the Arctic and off the Atlantic coast. They say we need to reform fossil fuel leasing on public lands, decrease fossil fuel extraction from public lands over time, and expand renewable energy production on federal lands and waters. They oppose attempts to decrease the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act to protect threatened and endangered species. They emphasize that according to the military, climate change is a threat multiplier that is already lending to new conflicts over resources, natural disasters, and degradation of vital ecosystems across the globe. In the first 100 days of the next administration, the President will convene a summit of the world's best engineers, climate scientists, policy experts, activists, and indigenous communities to create a plan to solve the climate change crisis.

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