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Evaluating President Trump's SOTU From The Energy Perspective

How did President Trump do with energy matters on his State of The Union address yesterday? 

Based on a cursory evaluation of the two sentences he devoted to energy matters, I’d say not too well. 

Combative rhetoric, which has become a hallmark of Trump’s leadership, was again on display yesterday. He declared that his administration has ended the war of American Energy and on clean coal. “We are now an exporter of energy to the world,” he said.

Evaluating Trump’s Statements 

The State of the Union is a progress report of the country in the last one year. It includes new developments and milestones that the country has achieved during that period. But President Trump’s updates regarding the energy sector were obtuse and factually incorrect. 

There was, of course, no war on American energy. To declare a war on “American” energy would be to declare a war against America itself, since energy fuels its economy. 

Rather, President Trump was probably referring to the policies put in place by the previous administration to inhibit growth of fossil fuels and encourage renewable energy technologies. But the supposed “war” on fossil fuels actually resulted in increased production of fossil fuels as America ramped up its oil production during the Obama years. 

According to EIA data, oil production, which slid downward during the last years of President Bush’s administration, jumped up again under Obama. To be sure, Trump’s presidency is expected to propel that figure even higher: The EIA expects U.S. crude oil production to average 10.3 million barrels per day this year, the highest on record. 

Trump’s statements regarding clean coal have come in for ridicule earlier. This time around, he did not attempt to define it and focused on blaming the previous administration’s policies for its current state in the industry. 

But that claim, again, is incorrect as clean coal projects were abandoned because they were not economically feasible. He should also avoid claiming credit for ending the “war” on clean coal. Carbon sequestration technologies are becoming popular due to scientific advances that are a result of sustained funding made by the previous administration for research into the technology. 

Finally, there’s the claim that his policies ensured that America is able to export energy. It was the previous administration that set the stage for exports. Under President Obama, the United States witnessed a 74% increase in oil production due to the boom in shale oil. It was also under President Obama that the Republican-dominated house voted to repeal the 40-year-old Act that placed restrictions on US exports of oil. President Trump has been a beneficiary, rather than the instigator, of these policies.  

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