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CAMPAIGN 2016: Trump to Champion U.S. Oil in Speech Today, Adviser Says

Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter
Published: Thursday, September 15, 2016

Donald Trump will bring his populist economic message to a hometown audience today as part of a midday address to the Economic Club of New York at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, only eight blocks from his campaign and business headquarters at Trump Tower.

Billed as the Republican presidential nominee's second major economic policy speech in five weeks, Trump will visit Manhattan with running mate Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), where he is expected to reiterate calls for business tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks, including much of the Obama administration's energy and environmental agenda.

"I think we're going to hear about the value of energy independence, and the value domestically to this country of continuing to develop our fossil fuels as a source of job creation and economic growth," said Kathleen Hartnett White, a Trump economic adviser, former chairwoman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and director of the Armstrong Center for Energy and the Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

White will attend the Manhattan event as a member of Trump's economic advisory council, which was expanded last month to include eight women, including White and TPPF colleague Brooke Rollins, president and CEO of the Austin, Texas-based free-market think tank. White co-authored the recent book "Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy" with fellow free-market economist Stephen Moore, also a Trump adviser.

While the New York Economic Club address will be more buttoned-down than a Trump campaign rally, the GOP candidate and real estate mogul has not pulled punches in earlier speeches to establishment audiences, such as the Detroit Economic Club, where he rolled out much of his economic agenda last month.

During that speech, Trump excoriated the Obama administration's "job-killing energy restrictions," particularly regulations targeting the fossil fuel sector and coal-fired electric utilities. "It is time to remove the anchor driving us down," Trump said. "Upon taking office, I will issue a temporary moratorium on new agency regulations."

By scrapping regulations like the Clean Power Plan, which targets utility-sector carbon dioxide releases, and recent rules tightening methane standards for the oil and gas sector, a Trump administration would free the energy sector of hundreds of millions of dollars in costs and make Americans less dependent on foreign energy, White said.

"Energy independence is a means of reducing our trade deficit, and simultaneously it's a great source of national security," she added.

White was also critical of the Obama administration's Climate Action Plan, especially provisions to curb carbon emissions by expanding the nation's renewable energy portfolio and the continued conversion of coal-fired power plants to burn cleaner natural gas.

She called Obama's climate policies "infeasible" — based on lofty expectations about the ability of renewable energy resources to form the backbone of a 21st-century economy.

Other advocacy groups, including the nonpartisan Business Council for Sustainable Energy, have pointed to the substantial positive economic impact that energy technology and innovation have provided to the U.S. economy over the last decade.

Data collected by BCSE and Bloomberg New Energy Finance show that the United States invested $56 billion in 2015 in clean energy technologies, while natural gas plants and renewable energy projects have made up 94 percent of all new power capacity built in the United States since 2000, according to the "Sustainable Energy in America: 2016 Factbook."

Lisa Jacobson, president of BCSE, credited that growth to a new "cycle of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit" within the power sector that has helped make the U.S. energy system "more diverse, resilient, secure, clean and efficient."

If Trump delivers a strong message today against renewable energy, he would confront ambitious New York policies like Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's "Reforming the Energy Vision" program and the recent adoption of a 50 percent renewable portfolio standard by the state Public Service Commission.