Trump’s latest energy plan leaves American energy and innovation in the dark
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Since coming to office, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push MORE has led the U.S. down a path of regression, ceding the nation’s leadership on important issues, chief among them our commitment to policies that promote energy innovation and job creation, and combat the impending dangers of climate change. His latest attempt to turn back the clock on America’s energy progress was rolled out this week by the acting director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a former coal lobbyist himself. The proposal, deceptively named the Affordable Clean Energy rule, is being marketed as a less “prescriptive” replacement for the Clean Power Plan, but it is really just a giveaway to the coal industry.

While the Clean Power Plan carved out a national agenda to reduce carbon emissions and encourage the use of clean energy sources, this new proposal passes the buck off to the individual states. It would give them broad authority to increase emissions in exchange for minor efficiency improvements, and it contains loopholes big enough to drive a diesel-powered tractor trailer straight through.


The president and his cronies are falsely claiming this plan will create jobs, but the Department of Energy’s annual U.S. Energy Employment report for 2017 tells a different story. The solar and wind industries combined make up nearly three times the amount of jobs as compared to the coal industry. Coal jobs declined by 39 percent between March 2009 and March 2016, with a 24 percent decline in the last year alone, and net generation from coal sources has dropped by 53 percent since 2006. Most notably, this decline is due to increasing economic competition from renewable energy and natural gas.

Meanwhile, solar has seen a net generation increase of over 5,000 percent and accounts for the largest share of workers in the electric power generation workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists solar photovoltaic installers as the fastest growing occupation, with a median pay of $39,490 per year – over $8,000 more than the $31,099 median personal income of a single American. Coming in a close second on that list of growing occupations is wind turbine service technicians, whose median pay was $53,880 in 2017.

As the administration peddles its Affordable Clean Energy plan, which would mostly financially benefit their industry friends, they fail to highlight the devastating health and environmental costs laid out in their own analysis of this proposal. The administration’s own report outlines the climate and human health losses that would be incurred under this plan – including premature deaths caused by increased emissions that have been linked to heart and lung diseases as well as the increasing toll of chronic respiratory problems, such as asthma. The analysis states that implementing this proposal will increase carbon dioxide emissions, countering significant emissions reduction progress. This comes at a time when natural disasters and drastic changes in weather patterns associated with these emissions are at a historic high. With forest fires raging, choking the West with smoke, now more than ever we should commit to reducing these lethal emissions.

But from the beginning, the president has made clear that he has no desire to move the country forward on issues related to our environment or the future of our economy. As 200 countries around the world committed to rein in emissions under the Paris Climate Accord, President Trump withdrew the United States, provoking diplomatic discord and relinquishing our role as a global leader. Just weeks ago, he rolled back fuel economy standards– a move that will stifle technological advancements and put American automakers at a competitive disadvantage. And this latest proposal is his last-ditch effort to provide life support for coal plants that could not otherwise compete against other sources of power generation. The president is rolling back decades of progress and leading our country – once a shining example for energy innovation and leadership – down a dark path.

Congressman McNerney is a former wind energy engineer and holds a PhD in mathematics. He sits on the House Committees on Energy and Commerce and Science, Space and Technology.