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Clinton, Trump advisers face off over energy policy

Advisers to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump clashed Tuesday over major energy policy questions, like whether the Paris climate agreement is good for the country and what the future of coal should be.

Trevor Houser, Clinton’s top energy adviser, argued for the Democratic presidential nominee’s vision of a future in which low-carbon sources dominate the world’s energy markets.

{mosads}Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), an adviser to Trump, the Republican nominee, repeatedly framed the Paris agreement as putting American interests subordinate to those of other countries and pushed for a federal energy policy that is neutral to all energy sources.

The debate hosted by the University of Richmond’s law school provided a rare chance for representatives of the Clinton and Trump campaigns to discuss energy policy, which received little attention at the presidential and vice presidential debates.

Cramer sought to put the Paris pact on par with major treaties Trump has criticized, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

“The acquiescence of American interests to global interests has been going on way too long. And the Paris climate accord is one more bad trade deal,” Cramer said.

Cramer complained that the United States is a relatively small greenhouse gas emitter but that it’s being relied on heavily to cut emissions.

“If the United States ceased to exist tomorrow … we wouldn’t affect the temperature in the next 50 years on the globe,” he said.

“So why are we having this political fight over something that’s frankly been blown way out of proportion when we can have a serious discussion about the core principles and the core responsibilities of environmental protection?”

Houser focused heavily on the position of Trump and most other Republican politicians that man-made climate change is not real.

“We have a candidate in Donald Trump who believes that climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese,” Houser said.

“If Donald Trump actually believed that climate change was an issue that needed to be addressed, then maybe we’d be a little bit more interested in his views on the most successful international negotiating strategy. But this posture of ‘climate change isn’t real, but if it was real, this would be a better deal’ is just a complete non-starter.”

The two campaign surrogates also clashed repeatedly over the future of coal. While Trump has promised to revitalize the coal industry, Clinton has argued that it will never return to its glory days.

“While the ‘war on coal’ narrative makes a good soundbite in coal country, while it’s easy for Donald Trump to show up to a rally and put on a hard hat and promise to return coal employment back to its glory days, we’ve been transitioning away from coal employment for a long time,” Houser said.

He then pivoted to a discussion about Clinton’s $30 billion plan to help coal country find new economic opportunities.

Cramer said that’s of little comfort to coal industry workers and accused Clinton of trying to punish certain industries.

“This is the type of management that liberals like to utilize. They love to manipulate because of their political agenda, rather than a neutral, market-based solution,” said Cramer.

“The government should not be determining who gets a job and who gets a government program. They ought to be out of the business of determining those things and let the market decide.”

Tags 2016 presidential elections Climate change Donald Trump Hillary Clinton

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