“All of the above energy” is no mere pithy industry spin, and truth be told it is actually “all of the above jobs.”
By embracing energy policies that rely on markets versus executive fiat to pick “winners and losers,” President-elect Trump can spur job creation across America’s energy resources, including coal, natural gas, nuclear, oil, solar, wind and the ingenuity of our scientists, engineers, and energy financiers.
All of the above jobs can become reality in a nation where policy choices create a culture of innovation across sectors.
In energy, innovation culture requires national leadership that is courageous enough to stop making energy policy through the tax code. Sadly, America’s national energy policy has of late become about scrapping over tax incentives.
These incentives usually favor one energy source over another, until the disfavored sources manage to get their own new tax benefits. The Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for wind and solar, 45Q for coal, incentives for nuclear in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and the fact carbon tax proponents look to corporate tax reform as the solution to climate change, all demonstrate how accustomed the government is to making energy policy synonymous with tax policy.
President Trump has the ability to end this tax code chicanery by taking a hard look at how tax policy is creating market distortions that may be impeding American energy leadership and job creation.
The new era of energy careers will also require our Departments of Energy and Defense to be research leaders by making investments that benefit both our national security and our energy future.
Nuclear power and hydraulic fracturing are two energy innovations these two agencies helped bring to market. The Department of Energy provided crucial, early support to hydraulic fracturing technology. The Army Corps of Engineers, a division of the Department of Defense, ran the Manhattan Project, which brought forth the atomic era. Both innovations are responsible for tens of thousands of good, stable American jobs.
Nuclear research was key to hastening America’s victory in World War II. Hydraulic fracturing, further, has been instrumental in reducing our dependence on foreign oil and gas.
With this precedent in mind, President Trump’s administration should encourage “all of the above investments” in our energy future, rather than ideologically driven “research” investments in renewables only.
The next great innovation in clean energy, for example, might be zero emissions natural gas and coal fired Allam cycle power plants. This new technology is not only zero emissions, it has potential to create jobs in research, in construction, in coal mining, and in plant operations and maintenance.
“All of the above research” means improved national security and all of the above jobs.
President Trump must encourage research by cutting regulatory red tape that cripples innovation. A company wastes up to ten years and $100 million dollars in fees to obtain the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) permits necessary to conduct research into critical advanced nuclear technologies.
The deleterious effect of this regulatory burden on energy innovation and baseload security cannot be understated. This red tape is driving the best thinkers and investment dollars in nuclear energy to research facilities in Asia.
ThorCon and Terrapower are but two American projects in advanced nuclear research that the lengthy regulatory timeframe of NRC permitting has forced to Indonesia and China, respectively. Streamlining permitting for advanced nuclear research will keep atomic energy leadership and jobs here in America.
All of the above job creation also requires the government to scrap regulatory barriers to entry for new energy innovators.
The Federal regulatory process is roughly a three to five year process. Technology innovation moves much faster than this clunky speed of the administrative state. By the time a rule is done, it is often technologically out of date and checkered with provisions that favor big companies over the small business innovators who create most of America’s new jobs.
At a recent forum I attended, CISCO executive chairman John Chambers recently told a global audience of youth innovation leaders that he thinks President Trump is well positioned to lead the United States into the innovation future because of his business acumen.
For this reason, American workers should be optimistic our new president will take these simple steps, and more, to create all of the above jobs, all of the above careers in energy innovation across the states.
Sarah E. Hunt is the Director for the Center for Innovation and Technology and leads the Center’s Energy Innovation Project at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
The views of Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.