Fossil Fuel Energy Development: The Trump Administration’s PriorityAlan Carlin | December 15, 2016
It became ever clearer during the last week that the Trump Administration wants to emphasize low cost, reliable fossil fuel energy development and to deemphasize expensive and unreliable wind and solar development. Their latest nominations for Federal department heads in natural resource and environmental areas are uniformly climate skeptics and strong supporters of fossil fuel development. It seems likely that they understand the role that energy development can and must play in the improvement in the US economy Trump campaigned on.
This apparent emphasis comes amid a background of increasing hopes for an even further technological revolution in the use of fracking and associated oil and natural gas development technology that should make it possible for the US to become the new Saudi Arabia of all fossil fuels. In fact, the huge fall in oil prices in the last few years has made it clear that US oil production using fracking and associated modern technologies is the swing world producer of oil, not OPEC. Reliable, inexpensive energy will make the US more attractive for investments by users of such resources compared to other countries where energy is either unreliable or expensive. Presumably that is exactly what the Trump Administration is trying to do. The broader hope is that instead of paying out US wealth to enrich OPEC, Russia, and other major oil exporters the US can sell its abundant fossil fuels elsewhere and increase the wealth of Americans instead.
As discussed last week, the Trump Administration can probably not achieve its promised economic revival without a substantial oil and gas production expansion and greatly increased exports of US fossil fuel production. This is clearly the easiest path to fulfilling Trump’s 2016 election promises and achieving reelection in 2020.
The Likely Push Back by Climate Alarmists
One obvious problem is the vehement opposition and likely obstruction of the climate alarmists. As argued last week, the best response is to publicly point out the scientific basis, or rather the lack thereof, of alarmist “science” claiming that increased CO2 human-caused emissions will result in higher global temperatures. This is best handled by a direct and public confrontation, for which the alarmists are ill prepared since they have no real scientific evidence for their assertions despite a muddy ocean of words by the UN and USEPA. The alarmists’ approach for some years has been to publicly deride the climate skeptics rather than present valid arguments for their so-called “consensus science.” See, for example, their calculated treatment of Prof. Roger Pielke, Jr.
A public attack on the alarmists’ “science” will not make any friends in the “environmental” community, of course, but it is doubtful that Trump would lose any votes in 2020 as a result if the Trump Administration can deliver its promised economic revival. Indeed, if the Democrats learn nothing from the 2016 election and continue to strongly support the climate alarmists over those damaged by restricting development of coal and other fossil fuels, they may well seal their electoral fate for some years.
If they do this, they will make it increasingly clear that they are supporting environmental zealots rather than improved living standards for Americans or even improving their actual environment. This is because no scientifically valid evidence has been found that increasing human-caused CO2 emissions would result in Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) nor that it would even have a statistically significant effect on increasing global temperatures. But the cost of reducing human CO2 emissions would be enormous and it would clearly damage the world’s plants if it actually succeeded, which one would think would be a primary goal for those calling themselves “environmentalists” to avoid.