Trump vows to create 'American energy dominance'

President Trump is formally seeking a review of energy policies to help the nuclear power industry prosper.

Trump announced the review during a speech at the Energy Department’s headquarters, which came as part of the administration’s Energy Week celebration.

“The golden era of American energy is now underway. And I’ll go a step further: the golden era of America is now underway, believe me,” Trump told the fossil fuel industry executives, workers, lawmakers and others assembled.

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“Our country is blessed with true energy abundance, which we didn’t know of even five years ago and certainly 10 years ago,” he continued

“With these incredible resources, my administration will seek not only the American energy independence that we’ve been looking for so long, but American energy dominance.”

“Energy dominance” has been the theme of the Energy Week events. To the administration, it means boosting production of domestic fossil fuels and other energy so that the United States can export them and use them for geopolitical purposes, like reducing the influence of other major energy superpowers.

The nuclear announcement was one of a handful of actions Trump announced in his speech, along with actions to expand offshore oil and natural gas drilling and exports of oil, natural gas and coal.

“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,” he said.

“A complete review of U.S. nuclear energy policy will help us find new ways to revitalize this crucial energy resource.”

It’s unclear how much Trump could do to help nuclear. Utilities have announced plans to close numerous plants in recent years, falling victim to competition from cheap natural gas and renewable power.

Nonetheless, nuclear’s supporters welcomed the announcement.

“The U.S. nuclear sector is at a crisis point where the industry must innovate or die,” Jay Faison, CEO of the conservative clean energy group ClearPath Foundation, said in a statement. “This soup-to-nuts review by the administration may result in new policy that will accelerate aggressive efforts by those like NuScale Power and Bill Gates’s TerraPower towards reinvigorating an immensely important industry that America created and dominated for decades.”

Trump also announced that the Interior Department is kicking off the formal process to expand areas available to oil and natural gas companies for offshore drilling.

The Interior Department said Thursday that it is publishing a “request for information,” seeking comments from the public and stakeholders on what areas should be open for drilling.

“Under the previous administration, so much of our land was closed to development. We’re opening it up. The right areas, we’re opening it up,” Trump said.

“America will be allowed to access the vast energy wealth located right off our shores.”

The action kicks off a multistep process of writing a new five-year plan for federal sales of offshore drilling rights. The Obama administration, which left the Atlantic and Arctic oceans out of its lease plan for 2017 to 2022, took around two years to write its plan.

“We’re going to be examining all of the outer continental shelf planning areas with a fresh set of eyes to see where we can expand access to offshore oil and gas development,” Vincent DeVito, energy adviser to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, told reporters before Trump’s speech.

DeVito said the Trump administration can move more quickly than the Obama administration did to complete its new plan, while abiding by the relevant laws.

Trump had ordered the new offshore drilling plan in an April executive order.

Trump’s other announcements concerned energy exports.

The Energy Department granted approvals for the Lake Charles liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Louisiana to export natural gas.

Sempra Energy, which is building an LNG export facility in Louisiana and proposing another in Texas, has formally agreed to negotiate a potential export contract with South Korea.

Trump’s administration approved a petroleum pipeline, and the Treasury Department is working to lift restrictions on government-backed financing to export coal power plant technology.