Published on January 31st, 2018 | by Joshua S Hill0
Energy Gets Short Shrift In Trump’s First State Of The Union, “Clean Coal” Highlighted
January 31st, 2018 by Joshua S Hill
US President Donald Trump gave his first State of the Union on Tuesday night and in a long-winded exhibition of his ability to read from a teleprompter and stay on script, the president gave short shrift to the country’s energy industry, ignoring the booming renewable energy sector and serving his few words for ending “the war on American Energy” and ending “the war on clean coal.”
In his first State of the Union — his speech last year to a joint session of Congress didn’t actually count as a State of the Union because he had not been president long enough — Donald Trump spoke for 1 hour 20 minutes, the longest since Bill Clinton back in 2000. There’s enough coverage around that we don’t need to recap the entire speech here, except to warn against “hot takes” which describe a “presidential performance” or a “conciliatory note” — it’s a minor miracle that, 9 hours after his last Tweet (as of writing) Donald Trump hasn’t reverted to type and begun attacking people on Twitter.
Of particular interest to CleanTechnica readers, however, is this single line in the speech:
“We have ended the war on American Energy — and we have ended the war on beautiful clean coal. We are now an exporter of energy to the world.”
In its entirety, the speech has only two references to “energy,” two references to “coal” (though one of these had to do with a story of a “starving boy in North Korea”), and absolutely no reference to the country’s solar, wind, energy efficiency, geothermal, or advanced transportation industries.
For a president who insisted on bringing back American jobs, he seems to have his priorities all mixed up. Just last week Reuters obtained a preliminary draft of US government data which showed that, overall, coal jobs only increased by 771 in Donald Trump’s first year in office. The report further detailed that, in some instances, the state job increase numbers were only temporary, and that the overall trend of job losses in the coal sector would only continue.
Conversely, in the past year we have seen numerous studies and reports showing that the renewable energy industry employs many more people in the United States than the coal industry does. According to the most recent figures, the coal industry in the United States employs about 75,000 people. Comparatively, the solar industry alone employs around 260,000 people — although, with the introduction of the new 30% solar tariff on imported modules and cells, the SEIA expects this to drop by 23,000 this year. A report from May of 2017 by the International Renewable Energy Agency showed that the US wind sector employs 102,500 people. In fact, job increases in the US renewable energy sector have time and again increased at a pace that defies all comparison.
So it is somewhat unsurprising that Donald Trump’s mediocre reference to the country’s energy industry was not well received by some of the country’s industry bodies and activists.
“Trump’s single-minded vision on energy was on full display tonight,” said Bob Keefe, executive director of E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs).
“Not only has there never been a war on American energy, it is his administration’s actions that are threatening energy production. America has always been an energy prosperous nation exporting all kinds of energy and technology across the globe. But it will be the President’s recent decision to levy harmful tariffs on solar equipment and pass a tax bill with provisions targeting wind and solar projects that will result in less clean energy being produced at home.
“3 million workers may have received bonuses from Trump’s tax cut, but he recklessly ignored the 3 million more American jobs in the solar, wind, energy efficiency, and efficient vehicle industries that are threatened by the same bill. It’s clear Trump’s ‘energy dominance’ vision has a massive blind spot for clean energy, and that’s a risk for our economy in 2018.”
“Trump has declared war on our climate,” said 350.org’s Executive Director May Boeve.
“We won’t let him win. There was never a war on energy, just a historic fight to keep fossil fuels in the ground. His actions in the past year, from pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement to handing over the federal government to oil companies like Exxon, have only worsened the threat of climate disaster for Americans and communities worldwide.”
“Instead of ‘energy dominance,’ the Trump Administration has caused dumbfoundness by doubling down on prehistoric fossil fuel projects that only serve to worsen the effects of global warming,” said Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA.
“This includes plans of offshore oil drilling that have enraged citizens and members of both parties by threatening local economies and their ecosystems. And this includes pipelines likes Keystone XL, Kinder Morgan, and Line 3 which threaten the safety of our drinking water and the rights of native populations.”