Trump Energy Agenda Will Further Damage Economic Competitiveness of California

By Johnny Kampis
December 8, 2016

Editor’s note: In two key areas of energy policy, the incoming Trump administration is poised to fundamentally change the rules. The Trump administration is likely to end U.S. participation in the Paris climate accords, and they are likely to strike down the EPA’s “clean power plan.” There is nothing wrong with setting reasonable environmental goals, and maintaining a trajectory towards clean and sustainable energy. For example, the incoming new head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, comes from Oklahoma, where reinjecting waste water from the fracking process is causing increasingly severe earthquakes. But if Oklahoma may need to invest in water treatment, California has gone to the opposite extreme. If Clinton had won the election, her administration might have tried to drag the entire nation towards emulating the California model. But as it is, the energy priorities that are going to be national policy are going to condemn California to being, more than ever, the most expensive place to live and do business. California’s citizens and policymakers need to consider very carefully where the state is going with respect to energy, water, and land use policies. Do they want to continue to impoverish working families, and drive their hardest working citizens into exile?

Emerging from what it considers the wilderness of the Obama administration, the Competitive Enterprise Institute unveiled Thursday an aggressive agenda for the incoming Congress and Trump administration that would repudiate the Paris climate agreement, strike down the Clean Power Plan and redirect the priorities of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Paris climate agreement has as its goal a framework to hold the increase in the average global temperature to less than 2-degrees Celsius above pre-industrial age levels. Nearly 200 members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have signed the agreement.

CEI argues such a goal cannot be accomplished without massive cuts in developing countries’ consumption of carbon fuels. “Putting an energy-starved planet on an energy diet is bound to be a cure worse than the supposed disease,” the organization writes in its report.

President Barack Obama signed the deal in April while asserting it is not a treaty and therefore not subject to Senate approval. Treaty or not,  CEI argues that adhering to the agreement would suppress domestic energy production and “extort billions of taxpayers dollars in ‘green’ foreign aid.”

Obama calls the accord an “executive agreement.” That tactic avoided a likely defeat in a Senate ratification vote, but also makes it easier for the new administration to repudiate the deal.

Marlo Lewis, senior fellow in energy and environmental policy, told Watchdog.org that CEI wants the Senate to clarify that the agreement is a treaty and insist to review it per Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. A ratification vote would require two-thirds support from the Republican Senate, making the agreement all but a dead letter.

Lewis said CEI thinks it’s important the U.S. government stand against the Paris climate agreement rather than simply have President-elect Donald Trump repudiate it as administration policy.

“Then it’s just his opinion versus Obama’s opinion,” Lewis said. “It would be better for the Senate to stand up for its constitutional right.”

Another item at the top of the institute’s list is overturning, or at least defunding, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

The CPP is an EPA rule aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

On Feb. 9, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the EPA to stop enforcement of the plan until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit could rule on a case brought by energy companies and 27 states trying to halt implementation of the rule.

Trump has said dispensing with the proposed regulations will be a priority of his administration.

Trump also nominated noted EPA critic Scott Pruitt to head the agency. The Oklahoma attorney general previously sued the EPA over its regulation of power plants and said Thursday he would rein in the EPA’s excesses.

“The American people are tired of seeing billions of dollars drained from our economy due to unnecessary EPA regulations, and I intend to run this agency in a way that fosters both responsible protection of the environment and freedom for American businesses,” Pruitt said.

That could bode well for some of CEI’s other energy and environmental goals, which include:

  • Blocking the EPA from effectively legislating on climate policy.
  • Repealing the EPA’s carbon dioxide standards for new fossil-fuel power plants.
  • Opposing carbon taxes.
  • Prohibiting use of the “social cost of carbon” as a justification for regulating emissions.
  • Freezing and sunsetting the renewable fuel standard.
  • Requiring all agencies to meet rigorous scientific standards.
  • Addressing unaccountable environmental research programs.

“I think the chances of a lot of it happening are pretty good,” Lewis said.

He added that CEI is “not trying to steer energy development one way or the other. We just want the government to get out of the way.”

About the Author:  Johnny Kampis is a content editor and staff writer at Watchdog.org. Johnny previously worked in the newspaper industry and as a freelance writer, and has been published in The New York Times, Time.com, FoxNews.com and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. A former semi-professional poker player, Kampis is writing a book documenting the poker scene at the 2016 World Series of Poker, a decade after the peak of the poker boom. This article originally appeared in Watchdog.org and is republished here with permission.

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