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Analysis: The flaw in Trump’s energy plans: ‘Continuing to view CO2 as toxic is a mistake’

– – Wednesday, July 5, 2017


President Trump’s energy policies are, mostly, a beautiful thing to see. In line with his America First Energy Plan, Mr. Trump has ended the Obama administration’s war on coal, America’s least expensive source of electricity, by rescinding the Clean Power Plan and other burdensome and unnecessary regulations. He has fast-tracked the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to increase the flow of crude oil from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in Alberta to U.S. refineries. And of course, he has announced U.S. withdrawal from the flawed Paris Agreement on climate change, while promising to “refocus the [Environmental Protection Agency] on its essential mission of protecting our air and water.”

On June 29, at the Unleashing American Energy Event at the Department of Energy in Washington, Mr. Trump went even further. He committed to work to “revive and expand our nuclear energy sector,” starting with a “complete review of U.S. nuclear energy policy.” He will encourage the financing of highly efficient overseas coal stations. New petroleum pipelines are in also the mix, as are new natural gas sales to South Korea, new export terminals for natural gas, and a new offshore oil and gas leasing program.

But there is a fly in the ointment, an echo of climate change policies that, according to the Congressional Research Service, the Obama administration spent $120 billion on. Rather than dismissing the Paris Agreement as fundamentally unsound, a multitrillion-dollar boondoggle devoid of sound science, Mr. Trump said at the Energy Department event, “Maybe we’ll be back into it someday, but it will be on better terms, fairer terms. We’ll see.”

The Paris Agreement is based on the hypothesis that carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions from industrial activities are causing, or will in the foreseeable future cause, dangerous climate change. If carbon-dioxide emissions are harmless or, as Energy Secretary Rick Perry said last month, not “the primary control knob for climate,” then the raison d’etre for Paris vanishes. It makes no sense to boast, as Mr. Perry does, that, even though the U.S. is withdrawing from the agreement, “the United States already leads the world in lowering emissions.”

All efforts to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions are, at best, a waste of money. That includes the capture and storage underground of carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants, which Robert E. Murray, CEO of Murray Energy Corp., told E&E News on June 30, “was a pseudonym for no coal.” Mr. Murray explained, “It is neither practical nor economic . It is just cover for the politicians, both Republicans and Democrats that say, ‘Look what I did for coal,’ knowing all the time that it doesn’t help coal at all.”

Senior fellow for energy and climate at the Heartland Institute, Frederick D. Palmer, said, “Though still undergoing further research, capturing CO2 and compressing it to a liquid for the purpose of enhanced oil recovery from shale fields may be valuable. But it should be funded mostly by industry as they see fit, not the government.