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First Year Energy and Environment Accomplishments of the Trump Administration

January 19, 2018

Climate Change Weekly #274

Elections have consequences, and in the energy and environmental policy areas, the consequences resulting from the election of Donald Trump have been profound.

When it comes to being president, ideas and vision are in many cases just as important as the policies implemented. In this regard, there has been a radical shift in the goal driving energy policy since Barack Obama left the White House. Under Trump, energy policies are no longer formulated based on the false narrative that human fossil-fuel use is causing dangerous climate change.

Trump views climate change as a non-threat to the prosperity and health of U.S. residents. He believes the climate policies imposed by Obama are threats to the country’s national and energy security. Trump ran his campaign, and thus far his administration, with the belief those policies have been hindering energy development and job growth. Under Trump, U.S. energy policy is guided by the overarching goal of promoting American energy dominance, a position reflected throughout the Trump administration’s America First Energy Plan.

The Heartland Institute assembled an Action Plan for the Trump administration consisting of 34 actions and policies that will help, in Trump’s words, “make America great again.” With Congress’s help in some instances, Trump has already accomplished in whole or in part eight of the 13 energy and environment recommendations in the Action Plan. For instance, Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris climate agreement and proposed to rescind the Clean Power Plan, thereby partially adopting recommendations two and five on Heartland’s list. Trump also approved the Keystone XL Pipeline (recommendation 3).

With Scott Pruitt at the helm of Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), EPA has ended its use of sue-and-settle agreements, which radical environmentalists and collaborators within EPA have relied on for years to shape energy and environmental policy without legislative oversight and outside of the normal regulatory process. Trump also cleared Obama holdovers from EPA science advisory committees and issued a directive to ensure advisors serving on EPA advisory committees are not receiving EPA grants and have no other conflicts of interest. Additionally, Trump has dramatically reduced funding for climate programs. (The previous three actions accomplish Action Plan recommendations 10, 11, and 12, in whole or in part.)

As a candidate for president, Trump argued the massive regulatory state headquartered in Washington, DC was one of the key factors destroying jobs, restricting economic growth, and preventing America from becoming great again. To remedy this problem, Trump committed to rescinding two regulations for every new regulation enacted. He’s gone far beyond that promise, rolling back 22 regulations for every rule enacted in his first 11 months in office.

Neomi Rao, director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, reports the administration has thus far formally revoked 67 rules, blocked 635 regulations that were being developed, placed 244 proposed regulations on “inactive” status, and placed a hold on more than 700 regulations. According to White House staff, by rescinding some regulations completely, the Trump administration has saved the economy more than $8.1 billion in regulatory costs over their lifetime, or about $570 million per year.

In addition, Trump has removed “climate change” as a threat that must be accounted for in the National Security Strategy document. With Congress’s help, Trump rescinded regulations that would have virtually halted many coal mining operations; withdrew federal regulations on fracking and methane emissions on federal and tribal lands; and opened federal lands to new oil, gas, and coal leases, including previously closed areas on the U.S. outer-continental shelf.

Trump’s other environmental accomplishments include stopping implementation of the Waters of the United States rule (recommendation 6 on Heartland’s Action Plan) and reducing the size and changing the management of two enormous national monuments in Utah.

Any fair assessment conducted by supporters of reasonable energy policies would consider Trump’s first-year achievements a tremendous start.

If the stock market, job growth, unemployment decline, business investment, and consumer confidence are any indication, Trump is well on his way to making America great again, and his climate, energy, and environment policy changes are playing no small part in that.

There is, of course, still much more for Trump to do.

If he wants to secure the changes he has already made in climate and energy policy, for instance, he must withdraw EPA’s Endangerment Finding, which is being used by outside interest groups to force the government to limit fossil fuel use.

If he wants the most secure, productive, efficient energy system the United States can have, Trump, Congress, and state governments need to end subsidies and mandates for wind and solar power.

Trump needs to cut the size of additional National Monuments, as recommended by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, while working with Congress to:

  • reform the Antiquities Act to require future monument declarations receive state and congressional approval with 60 days, or revert to their former status;
  • reform the Clean Water Act to ensure only interstate navigable waterways and the lands directly adjacent to them are regulated by the federal government; and
  • reform the Endangered Species Act, in keeping with the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, to ensure landowners whose property uses are restricted to protect an endangered species are paid just compensation for the public service they are providing.

— H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCES: The Heartland Institute and The New York Times


IN THIS ISSUE …

Climate models miss cloud cooling effectGermany to scrap 2020 climate goalsSolar project to produce oilAbsurd claim, record cold due to human warming


CLIMATE MODELS MISS CLOUD COOLING EFFECT

A new study by Princeton University researchers published in Nature Communications finds climate models used by scientists to project global temperatures and other climate conditions underestimate the cooling effect clouds have on an hourly, daily, and long term-basis. Because climate models underestimate the cooling effect of clouds, they overstate the amount of sunlight reaching Earth and the heat generated.

Professor Amilcare Porporato and postdoctoral research associate Jun Yin examined satellite images from 1985 through 2005, analyzing the cloud coverage at three-hour intervals for more than 6,000 points around the world. They found climate models miss important daily peaks in cloud coverage. The timing of cloud coverage, peaks, and troughs, substantially affect daily conditions. Because climate models inadequately account for the timing of peaks in cloud coverage, they overestimate the amount of sunlight reaching Earth by 1 to 2 watts of energy per meter. This is important because climate models assume increased amounts of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere since the industrial revolution have added an extra 3.7 watts of energy per square meter to Earth. If the Princeton findings are correct, models overstate the amount of warming by carbon dioxide by almost approximately 200 percent.

“Climate scientists have the clouds, but they miss the timing,” Porporato said. “The error here is half of that [assumed by models], so … it becomes substantial. There’s a strong sensitivity between the daily cloud cycle and temperature. It’s like a person putting on a blanket at night or using a parasol during the day. If you miss that, it makes a huge difference.”

SOURCES: Princeton and The Daily Caller


GERMANY TO SCRAP 2020 CLIMATE GOALS

Despite lambasting President Donald Trump for his decision to remove the United States from the Paris climate agreement, in her efforts to form a new governing coalition, Germany’s Angela Merkel has agreed to drop plans to lower carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

Despite spending nearly $800 billion on green energy subsidies in recent decades, it has become increasingly clear Germany would be unable to meet its 2020 greenhouse gas goals, blaming strong economic growth and higher than expected immigration for the missed targets. In an effort to minimize increased electricity prices from renewable energy mandates, the coalition negotiators agreed to cut taxes on electricity.

SOURCES: Reuters and The Daily Caller


SOLAR PROJECT TO PRODUCE OIL

In a bit of irony, solar energy will soon be used to help produce oil in California. Aera Energy LLC—jointly owned by Shell Oil Company and ExxonMobil—one of California’s largest producers of oil and natural gas, is teaming with GlassPoint Solar to build a solar plant to use solar steam and solar electricity to extract heavy oil.

As described in The Engineer, “Heavy oil is produced by injecting steam into the reservoir to heat the oil so it can be pumped to the surface. GlassPoint’s … enclosed trough technology houses curved mirrors … that track the sun throughout the day, focusing heat on pipes containing oilfield water. The concentrated sunlight boils the water to generate steam, which is then injected into the oil reservoir. To maintain steam injection 24/7, solar steam is injected during the day, and steam produced by burning natural gas is injected at night.” Once GlassPoint’s solar plant is complete, at peak production the plant will deliver more steam and electric power combined than any solar plant in California—and all to service an oil field.

SOURCE: The Engineer


ABSURD CLAIM, RECORD COLD DUE TO HUMAN WARMING

As much of the United States and the world weathered a winter freeze the likes of which has rarely been seen across such a vast swath of the planet as we rang in the New Year, failed presidential candidate Al Gore took to Twitter: “It’s bitter cold in parts of the US, but climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann explains that’s exactly what we should expect from the climate crisis.”

You read right, as the average temperature for the continental United States was a bone-chilling 11 degrees Fahrenheit on January 1, with more than 85 percent of the country experiencing below-freezing temperatures and nearly 1/3 of the nation facing temperatures 0 degrees Fahrenheit or lower; as residents in China experienced the coldest winter they’ve faced in more than 30 years with some parts of the country plunging as low as -50.04 degrees Fahrenheit; alarmist in chief Gore says it’s due to global warming.

This after Gore and his allies in alarm confidently predicted in 2010 that climate change, in the words of one article, meant “The End of Snow?” (NYT 2014) while in 2000 one scientist in the U.K. wrote “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” going on to say they’d have to read about it in history books.

Fortunately, real climate scientists were quick to correct Gore’s absurd claim. In his own tweet, Joe Bastardi, a meteorologist with WeatherBELL Analytics, which provides weather data and forecasts used by companies and governments around the world, wrote, “This is flat out insanity and deception now. To tell the public that events that have occurred countless times before with no climate change attribution, is now just that, is not science, it’s witchcraft … nothing more.”

Kevin Trenberth, a scientist with the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, who was also a lead author of the 2001 and 2007 Scientific Assessments of Climate Change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—no climate skeptic he—also reprimanded Gore for his claim, telling The Daily Caller, “winter storms are a manifestation of winter, not climate change.”

Cliff Mass, a climatologist with the University of Washington, told The Daily Caller, “Such claims make no sense and are inconsistent with observations and the best science. [O]n a personal note, it is very disappointing that members of my profession are making such obviously bogus claims. It hurts science, it hurts the credibility of climate scientists, and weakens our ability to be taken seriously by society.”

SOURCES: Climate Depot and The Daily Caller

Author
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
hsburnett@heartland.org

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