Energy Policy Issues and the 2016 Presidential Race


This year’s two mainstream presidential candidates are divided on nearly every issue, energy being one of them.  In one case, there could be significant changes to the focus of the nation’s energy policies and research.  And in the other case, the U.S. could see many current policies continued and expanded and little change to the administration’s core principals related to energy.  There are five categories that energy related commentary from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump tend to encompass.


It’s been said that Trump will have a pro-coal policy.  He has committed to reviewing all anti-coal regulations and has vowed to remove the moratorium on new coal leases on federal land.  Meanwhile, Clinton is determined to regulate fossil fuels by phasing out their subsidies and eventually eliminate their use altogether.  Trump claims that Clinton’s policies will put coal miners out of work but she has addressed this with a plant to invest $300 million in job creation in communities who current depend heavily on the coal industry.

Natural Gas

Clinton has referred to natural gas as a bridge fuel, implying we should only be relying on it temporarily for the bulk of our energy needs while we develop and expand renewable energy options.  She has not indicated, however, the length of the bridge.  Her policies could limit natural gas production as she has shown opposition to hydraulic fracturing and building new pipelines.  Trump has promised growth to the natural gas industry just as he has to coal.  However, considering they are each other’s closest competitors, it’s hard to see how both could strengthen simultaneously.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy is not a focus of Trump’s campaign one way or the other, but he has been critical of wind power’s impact on wildlife.  This topic comes up a lot with Clinton, though.  She wants to invest significantly in renewable energy development including installation of 500 million solar panels in the U.S. in her first term and increase tax credits for renewable energy sources.

Global Warming

Clinton’s position on climate change tracks closely with that of President Obama.  She supports the Clean Power Plan and wants the U.S. to continue to act as a leader in fighting climate change.  Although he denied it in the second presidential debate, Trump was credited with saying that global warming is a conspiracy put forth by China.  Today, he acknowledges its existence but does not agree with the position that it is man-made.  He wants to roll back regulations meant to protect the environment and end both the Clean Power Plan and the Climate Action Plan.

International Perspective

Trump is firm on his stance for United States energy independence, but has not given details on what would become of the international energy trading that already takes place today.  On the other hand, Clinton hopes to modernize the nation’s electric grid and in the third presidential debate said she wants that grid to cross international borders.  She emphasized the importance of trading energy with neighbors of the U.S. but at the same time does not want the country dependent upon the Middle East to meet energy needs.

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