Donald Trump loves buzzwords: “Winning,” “loser,” “Hillary’s emails.” He made a television series out of his favorite buzzwords, “You’re fired.” During the newly anointed “Energy Week,” President Trump repeated his favorite, new buzzword: “Energy Dominance.”
A far cry from the old Washington mantra “energy independence,” which is all about not having to rely on other countries to fuel the U.S. of A, “Energy Dominance” is Trump’s way of saying that he wants the United States to kick ass and sell fossil fuels.
Yes, the world will run on American energy.
And it’ll “create countless jobs for our people.”
And it’ll “provide true energy security to our friends, partners, and allies all across the globe.”
That’s some serious motivation from a man who forgets that the largest oil refinery in North America, the Port Arthur refinery in Texas, was just sold to Saudi Arabia.
Trump also forgets that these “allies” are also seeking energy independence—like Sweden for example, who will be completely fossil fuel free and energy independent within the next ten years. Trump also conveniently forgets that these “allies” like France, U.K., Germany, and some 200 other nations signed an agreement, the Paris Agreement, which stipulates a reduction in fossil fuel consumption—the exact type of energy Trump’s largely trying to sell.
Based on Trump’s six-point plan towards “Energy Dominance,” it looks like the president plans to revive nuclear energy and find new ways to justify unfettered development of fossil fuels and roll back environmental protections.
Is this worth it?
Is Nuclear Energy Worth the Risks?
“We will begin to revive and expand our nuclear energy sector—which I’m so happy about—which produces clean, renewable and emissions-free energy,” said Trump to a group of oil executives at an Unleashing American Energy Event.
Expanding nuclear energy isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Really, it depends on whom you ask. France, for example, relies on it as a primary energy source; whereas Germany, has completely halted production of nuclear energy and has instituted the Energiewende, which will see all nuclear power plants shutdown.
Like Trump said, nuclear energy is nearly emissions-free when it comes to producing greenhouse gases or traditional smog-forming pollutants. Some call it a “clean” energy, which is true, but that doesn’t mean it’s a renewable energy. Can anything that produces thousands of tons of waste that’ll last hundreds of thousands of years be considered renewable?
Nuclear energy is like the duct tape solution to the world’s energy needs. For starters, it’ll take up space. Plants require 8-square-miles of room, and reactors need to be located near a massive body of coolant water—far away from dense populations and natural disaster zones. Also, like duct tape, the nuclear plants will constantly need replacing. All power stations need to be decommissioned after 50 or so years of use, which means, new stations will constantly need to be built.
And what the Hell do we do with the nuclear waste? As of now, there’s no safe method of disposal. We could bury it like we have been doing, but that tends to lead to radioactive leakage into the groundwater or to accidents like this one. Personally, I say we blast it to Pluto.
Coal Will Be King
Trump’s plan toward “Energy Dominance” relies almost entirely on coal, with five of the president’s six energy initiatives focusing on the drilling and selling of oil and natural gas.
1. The U.S. will finance “highly efficient” coal plants overseas—notably the Ukraine.
2. A new petroleum pipeline to Mexico—which will go under the wall, of course.
3. Sempra Energy will begin negotiations (not selling, nothing financial, literally just the ability to speak) with South Korea about selling natural gas.
4. The U.S. will be able to export natural gas from the Lake Charles LNG terminal in Louisiana. “It’s going to be a big deal.”
5. The creation of a new offshore oil and gas leasing program.
“We have finally ended the war on coal.”
Much like the “War on Christmas,” the “War on Coal” never really existed. It fell apart because America stopped blasting off mountain tops.
Arguing that fossil fuels is the way to “Energy Dominance”—which, the more I say it, sounds more like a Dr. Evil masterplan than a presidential policy—is like the travel industry vying more zeppelins. Yeah, it was great, even necessary, in its heyday, but there are better investments today, and most countries already realize this.
Trump says we’ll sell the coal to our allies, but Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and Finland are all phasing out coal. Sweden and Denmark are pretty much there.
Two of the world’s biggest energy consumers, and obvious American energy importers, China and India, are already phasing out coal.
China, for example, is pumping over $360 billion into renewable energies by 2020. Also, by that same year, every Chinese coal plant will be cleaner and more efficient than every U.S. coal plant.
The Central Authority of India laid out an electricity plan that includes no new coal plants for at least the next decade.
“The country is supposed to be at the heart of coal plant growth, but it’s interesting to see the tide go against what we often hear about China and India—that they’re going to keep building coal plants—when actually, they’re both stalling production,” said Christine Shearer, a senior researcher at CoalSwarm and lead author of a report that noticed India’s departure from coal told CityLab.
So, if two of the supposed biggest importers of fossil fuels don’t want fossil fuels, who are we going to sell all this American-made energy to?
There will be buyers. And fossil fuels will be, for the foreseeable future, the world’s foremost fuel.
Ultimately, Trump’s six-point plan are relatively modest steps towards “Energy Dominance,” which, as it stands, is just more Trump hyperbole.
Will this make the U.S. the world’s biggest energy exporter? Perhaps for a bit. Will it put millions back to work? Not really. Will help the U.S. lead future energy exports? Almost certainly no. This is an attempt at a quick win for a president who’s been losing.
The biggest shame is this proposal for “Energy Dominance” doesn’t include investment in solar, wind, or even geothermal energies. Nothing. Defunding continues.
Like the president’s plans for health care, rebuilding the country’s infrastructure, eradicating ISIS, and a dozen other “policies,” it’s just Trump lip service.
Top photo by Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0
Tom Burson is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? but with more sunscreen and jorts.