The U.S. energy economy faces unprecedented pressure to integrate clean and renewable fuel sources like wind and solar, but after a distracting 2016 presidential campaign sidelined energy policy, troubling and untenable gaps in the president-elect’s strategy remain unchecked.
In the run-up to Tuesday’s election, the lone flicker of interest in clean energy was promptly extinguished when Ken Bone, who raised the issue during the Oct. 9 town hall-style debate, became an Internet sensation known more for his red sweater than for probing the unknowns clouding the country’s energy future (we wrestled with the answers).
Even as the U.S. tiptoes away from coal and grapples with environmental concerns, reporters and debate moderators sidestepped energy plans. Not unexpectedly, each candidate’s vision generally tracked with their party’s overarching views. But Donald Trump, even as he sits poised to take over the presidency, has yet to offer a comprehensive agenda.
Broadly speaking, the Republican has pledged to revert the U.S. energy economy back to coal and lift regulations on oil and gas production, erasing efforts by the Obama administration to bolster clean energy sources. He would repeal federal spending on clean energy, including wind and solar power. And Trump has also famously (and egregiously) claimed that climate change is a “hoax,” diminishing a central political motivation for promoting clean energy.
Trump’s coal-centric vision veers sharply from Democrat Hillary Clinton’s proposed plan, which hinged on jump-starting the clean energy economy. The candidates shared a bit of common ground, though — through the campaign, neither addressed local ownership of energy, a touchstone in the push to expand renewable generation left in flux after Trump’s election.