Trump Energy EO no Big Surprise

President Trump has issued an Executive Order about energy policy. It is published here (Vox) with useful annotations by George Washington University law professor Emily Hammond.

As expected, Trump wants to roll back all efforts of the previous administration to do something about global warming. As Hammond explains, much of this will be litigated for quite some time, probably longer than Trump is president.

This is bad for climate policy, but not bad news for climate policy. Nothing else was to be expected. As long as the fossil fuel industry owns the White House, of course the president will try hard to do whatever they want.

The only way to change this deplorable state of affairs is to have the fossil fuel industry change sides in this debate. There is nothing wrong with policy being sold to the highest bidder, if the highest bidder buys good policy.

The title of the Executive Order reads “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth”.

If you are interested in energy independence, installing a lot of solar panels and wind power is a good idea. You don’t need to import fuel for those.

If you are interested in economic growth, installing a lot of solar panels and wind power is a good idea. There is no way to outsource the installing part of the economic activity to some other country. Solar panels may be made in China, but installing them in the United States will create jobs there.

Has Trump heard about the recent growth of the American solar industry?

If you are interested in helping the coal industry, “avoiding regulatory burdens” won’t be enough. The government getting out of the way doesn’t help the coal industry survive against the competition of wind and solar. To help the coal industry you need regulation that actively steps in and guarantees feed-in tariffs for coal.

If you are interested in keeping energy independence in the oil sector, it makes sense to spread the treasure over a longer time frame. Burning every barrel in sight as long as the market decides to do so will lead to having no oil a century from now, and much less fifty years from now. Bad news for energy independence.

And if you are interested in helping the oil industry, you should enact regulation that leads to higher oil prices. Such regulation should work to effectively reduce supply. A tariff of 100% on all imported oil would work fine, and help keeping the American oil market in the hands of American producers (energy independence).