Tuesday, December 27, 2016 by Don Wrightman
The fossil fuel industry is seeing a resurgence after eight years of being banished, and even vilified, by the Obama administration. Executives and lobbyists from the industry are now shaping Donald Trump’s administration and policy agenda. Oil, gas, and coal industries are now gaining power in Washington.
The energy sector has had its share of political influence throughout the years. The industry’s power grab during the Trump transition has alarmed environmentalists. They fear that the new administration will undo a decade of progress combating climate change.
Donald Trump will take office with an environmental policy agenda that marks a change from the Obama administration’s support of the Paris climate agreement.
Many fossil fuel policies from the Obama administration are expected to be reversed after Trump gets sworn into office. Regulations expected to be eliminated are those that limit carbon emissions at power plants; and restrict oil, gas, and coal extraction. This represents significant gains for the industry.
Trump recently vowed to eliminate all wasteful job killing regulations. He said that restrictions would be canceled on American energy production, including shale, oil, natural gas, and clean coal.
Industry officials and allies, who were sidelined under the Obama administration, are working to shape the incoming administration’s agenda. They look forward to success under a Republican White House. Meanwhile, Democrats plan to use their minority power to aggressively check the power of the executive branch, especially on environmental and energy policies.
Although Trump’s cabinet features many allies of the oil industry, the President-elect will take a balanced approach to the industry. Industry officials are not opposed to responsible oil and gas development. With any luck, the industry’s bottom line won’t take precedence over clean air and water protections for Americans.
So far, Trump’s environment and energy picks have received harsh criticism from the left wing. It was a good move to ban lobbyists from the transition team, but some energy lobbyists may be serving as informal liaisons between the industry and transition staffers.
Immediately after Trump’s inauguration, we will see the unraveling of the energy industry’s plans to overhaul restricting policies. The agenda should mark a significant change, which could see a complete reset of Obama’s Clean Power Plan. That plan was designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The moratorium on coal leases of federal lands will be lifted, and more federal land may be leased for drilling. The EPA’s “social cost of carbon” calculations probably won’t be considered by the incoming administration. Clean coal is just too useful to be kept in the ground.