President Trump’s plan to make America great inspires a New Year’s resolution: Bolster America’s energy sector to unleash the U.S. economy.
As Trump takes that on, he should keep four tenets in mind: respect for private property rights, reliance on voluntary exchange, tax neutrality, and consumer welfare.
The Trump administration has to undo eight years of President Obama’s public policy war against fossil fuels. After executive orders cancel the previous administration’s overreach, it’ll be time to play offense.
Breakthrough technology has opened reserves of previously inaccessible oil and gas. Rather than welcoming this bounty, Obama restricted access and blocked infrastructure development.
Trump’s energy-policy era can find inspiration in Ronald Reagan’s 1981 removal of price and allocation controls from oil and petroleum products. Such free market reliance ended America’s dependence on foreign oil at the expense of our own -- a crippling consequence of the U.S. government’s energy activism at that time.
The 40th president’s boldness should guide Trump as he removes ill-conceived regulations, opens areas for energy development, and improves energy infrastructure.
Rein in EPA
The Obama administration exploited the Clean Air Act of 1970 to shift electricity generation from fossil-fuel energy to politically correct, economically incorrect renewable energies.
While a presidential candidate, Obama predicted his energy policy would increase electricity rates. True -- the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) is expected to cost consumers an additional $214 billion for energy by 2030.
Forty-five states would face double-digit hikes in electricity costs.
Fortunately, the Supreme Court put the CPP on hold last February. Now that Trump is in office, he’s expected to rescind it by executive order.
Increase Energy Production
The Trump administration can boost public land energy production by opening up more offshore and onshore areas to development.
The country leases less than three percent of its available offshore territory. Obama has kept most of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans closed to drilling. In December, he closed off parts of the Atlantic and the entire Arctic Ocean to future oil and gas leases.
Obama’s plan will have denied Americans $300 billion and 400,000 jobs by 2030. Trump should allow the energy sector to access these resources -- unleashing economic benefits.
Swaths of public land rich in oil and gas remain inaccessible thanks to bureaucracy. Trump should give states increased authority to lease federal land within their borders and govern energy development on it.
Longer-term, mineral-rich public lands should be privatized to help reduce the federal budget deficit and retire outstanding debt.
Pipeline to Consumers
The Obama administration declared war on energy pipelines -- and consumers. Since 2005, nearly a dozen pipeline projects were delayed, rejected, or cancelled -- costing our nation thousands of jobs and billions in revenue.
The Keystone XL pipeline would’ve activated 42,000 workers and added several billion dollars to the economy, but Obama blocked the project.
Last year, Obama halted the Dakota Access pipeline, involving 12,000 jobs and generating $156 million. Trump, however, just signed executive orders to give both pipelines the green light.
While campaigning, Trump laid out energy policies prioritizing fossil fuels. As president, he should bring them to fruition, with Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy and Ryan Zinke as Secretary of Interior.
The actions needed to access America’s energy resources and spark a new era of prosperity are crystal clear. They’ll require bold leadership and resolve.
Go big or go home. Drain the swamp of obstructionism. Unleash an energy renaissance.
Here’s to a new energy philosophy in 2017!
Robert L. Bradley Jr. is the founder and CEO of the Institute for Energy Research.