by Emily Atkin May 26, 2016
CREDIT: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump acknowledges the crowd after giving an energy speech at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference, Thursday, May 26, 2016, in Bismarck, N.D.
President Obama’s climate change policies would be undone. Regulations on greenhouse gas emissions would be eliminated. The Keystone XL pipeline would be built. There would be no international agreement to prevent catastrophic climate change.
That is what Donald Trump’s energy policy would look like should he be elected president, the presumptive Republican nominee promised on Thursday before a pro-fossil fuel development crowd in Bismarck, North Dakota.
In a speech laying out his energy agenda for the United States, Trump promised to undo essentially every major policy developed in the last decade intended to slow human-caused global warming.In a speech laying out his energy agenda for the United States, Trump promised to undo essentially every major policy developed in last decade intended to slow human-caused global warming.
“We’re going to cancel the Paris climate agreement,” Trump said, referring to the landmark agreement between nearly 200 nations to keep the world from warming more than 2°C above average preindustrial levels. Climate scientists largely consider 2°C to be the limit for acceptable global warming before irreversible catastrophic impacts begin to occur.
Before Thursday, Trump had only hinted at this position, saying he would, at minimum, “renegotiate” the deal. “At a maximum, I may do something else,” Trump said at the time.
Trump also said in his Thursday speech that he would undo President Obama’s climate change policies, specifically calling out the Climate Action Plan by name. The Climate Action Plan is Obama’s sweeping program to fight and adapt to climate change — as a whole it includes the EPA’s regulations on carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants; new efficiency standards for federal buildings; programs to install renewable energy projects on federal lands; and numerous programs to prepare communities for some of climate change’s expected impacts.
In addition to repealing current regulations of greenhouse gases, Trump also said it’d be unlikely he’d approve any regulation on any type of pollution — only, he said, if the regulation was “good for the American worker.”
“If it doesn’t pass this test, [a] rule will not be under any circumstances approved,” he said. Trump has also said he’d like to remove coal mining safety and inspection regulations if he becomes president.
While Trump lauded domestic fossil fuel production, he bristled at renewable wind energy technology, which he said "kills more than a million birds a year." At the same time, he criticized the Endangered Species Act for being used "to restrict oil and gas operations."
Though he didn't explain how he would do this, Trump also said he'd restore the American coal industry to its former glory. "We’re going to save the coal industry," he said. Coal currently makes up about 71 percent of all energy-related carbon emissions in the United States, though the industry is rapidly declining due to increased demand for cleaner, cheaper natural gas.
As president, Trump said he'd approve the Keystone XL pipeline, a 1,179-mile pipeline extension that would bring tar sands crude oil from Canada to refineries on America's Gulf coast. Tar sands oil has a high carbon intensity compared to other types of oil, making it particularly worrisome to people concerned with climate change. Trump also once invested $250,000 in TransCanada, the company that wants to build Keystone XL.Trump did not address this in his speech -- in fact, he didn't mention the words "climate change" at all.
All of these proposed policies would undoubtedly increase the United States' output of carbon emissions, the main driver of global warming. Trump did not address this in his speech -- in fact, he didn't mention the words "climate change" at all.
Trump has, however, repeatedly said in the past that he he doesn't believe the overwhelming body of scientific research that says carbon emissions cause catastrophic global warming.
While Trump has had a history of of proposing novel and surprising policies, the energy plan he put out on Thursday is actually in line with most mainstream Republican lawmakers. In 2015 -- the hottest year in recorded history -- 59 percent of House Republicans and 70 percent Senate Republicans denied the reality of human-caused climate change. Like Trump, most are content to let the world burn.