Trump Promises to Make American Energy Great Again

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In a complex policy speech in Bismarck, North Dakota on Thursday, Republican nominee Donald Trump outlined his plans to address America’s energy economy.

“Under my presidency, we will accomplish complete American energy independence,” Trump vowed. “We will become totally independent of the need to import energy from the oil cartel or any nation hostile to our interests.”

The New York Times, which took a blatantly adversarial approach to Trump’s proposals, interviewed Duke University energy economist Richard Newell to make sure they had a counterpoint to every assertion. On energy independence, Newell said:

“Even if energy independence was achievable, it would not be desirable. Our interests tend to be best served by getting each type of fuel we need from the least expensive source, be it domestic or imported.”

But see, that misses what Trump is actually saying. Note carefully his phrasing. He’s not saying that we will stop importing energy under his presidency; he’s saying that we will make sure that we aren’t forced to. And when that’s the case, we can cautiously pick and choose which countries we deal with. It’s very simple, very pragmatic, and very important.

Trump wasn’t just focused on energy independence. In his speech, he also made the following proposals:

More domestic oil drilling

Fewer environmental regulations

Approval of the Keystone XL pipeline

Restore coal mining jobs

Pull out of the Paris Climate agreement

Stop spending tax dollars on global warming programs

“We’ve got big problems, folks, and we can’t be sending money all over the world,” Trump said. “We’re going to keep our money here and our jobs here and bring our jobs back.”

Once again, Trump is demonstrating his willingness to change the paradigm. Clearly, his approach to the energy sector is antithetical to the approach Obama and Clinton take, but it’s also several steps further than the Republican Party platform. He doesn’t just want to cut down on some regulations here and there; he wants to take us in a new direction that puts American employment at the top of the priority list.

And that, really, is what it’s all about. Will Trump be able to accomplish everything he’s proposed? Probably not, but that’s true of every president. We already know Trump’s psychology: Propose the most extreme policies and then work backwards from there. If he sees that some of his proposals are unworkable as stated, he’ll roll them back to the point where they are workable. That’s a much better approach than the usual, “Well, let’s just tweak these liberal policies until they’re a little more palatable.”

This actually gets us somewhere.