Donald Trump is now the presumptive Republican nominee for president, and plenty of pundits have noted that his campaign is short on details when it comes to policy. Energy is no exception. Even on issues where the real estate mogul has weighed in, listed below, the actions he would take to realize his vision and the policy levers he would attempt to pull remain a mystery.
Trump has been generally consistent with Republican party positions on domestic energy production—he has repeatedly endorsed fracking on the campaign trail, and also argues for a revitalization of America’s coal mining industry. Trump has also taken aim at OPEC in verbal statements, and argued in favor of approving the Keystone XL pipeline. However, he has diverged slightly from the party line by coming out in favor of bolstering national infrastructure, and endorsed increased spending on roads, bridges, and airports.
On foreign wars, Trump has come out against the War in Iraq in the past, but said that he would take the country’s oil—a strategy he has also suggested taking in 2011 to settle the crisis in Libya, and more recently, to deal with ISIS.
On issues that dovetail with energy, such as the economy and national security, Trump is a wild card. He has supported cutting the corporate tax rate, as well as boosting spending on the military. In spite of wanting to increase military spending, he has questioned the country’s spending on military alliances with Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and NATO. On foreign wars, Trump has come out against the War in Iraq in the past, but said that he would take the country’s oil—a strategy he has also suggested taking in 2011 to settle the crisis in Libya, and more recently, to deal with ISIS. In each case, the presidential candidate failed to clarify how the oil would be taken, or why taking it would resolve each conflict, which has created confusion among the press and other observers.
Trump has been an early and vocal supporter of fracking. In 2012, he tweeted: “Fracking will lead to American energy independence. With price of natural gas continuing to drop, we can be at a tremendous advantage.” In February of last year, he pledged to convince New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to allow hydraulic fracking statewide. At the time, Cuomo had yet to make a final determination on the issue, but Trump claimed that fracking would get the green light “because I mentioned it [to Cuomo].” A few months later, in December, New York became one of the first states to ban fracking outright. In April 2016, Trump criticized Albany’s decision again. “It’s a terrible situation, and New York is in deep trouble,” Trump said on 1300-AM (WGDJ) in Albany. “As you know, we [New York] didn’t take advantage of our energy situation, and now it’s very late because the prices are so much lower. And you look at Pennsylvania, right along the state line, they have machines all over the place and people driving around. You know the expression, they are driving in their Cadillacs. And on the other side of the line, which is just an artificial line and people are literally in poverty. It’s just so incredible and we never took advantage.”
Trump reiterated his support for fracking in New York in a speech in March 2016, stating, “Did you know, if they fracked in New York, New York would lower its taxes, would have no debt, would have made a fortune. Instead, Pennsylvania took all the money. They took those beautiful, beautiful natural resources, they took them out.”
Trump also used fracking as an excuse to take a swipe at Ohio Governor John Kasich, a GOP primary competitor who recently dropped out. Trump commented that some of the Republican governors running for President “got a little bit lucky with the fracking,” to suggest that Ohio’s natural gas production boom had brought prosperity to the state.
Trump, while repeatedly referring to oil as the “lifeblood” of our nation and job market, has argued that the U.S. is the laughing stock of OPEC leaders and Saudi Arabia. He’s also taken sharp aim at OPEC, claiming that the organization is to blame for oil price volatility, arguing: “It’s not the markets. It’s OPEC… I know speculators. They only wish they had that kind of power. [OPEC] sets the price of oil. If they did that in this country, it would be called an illegal deal….They’d go to jail.”
Shoring up U.S. infrastructure is a key talking point for Trump. When asked about his views on the war in Iraq during a debate in December 2015, Trump stated, “We’ve spent $4 trillion trying to topple various people. If we could’ve spent that $4 trillion in the United States to fix our roads, our bridges and all of the other problems—our airports and all of the other problems we’ve had—we would’ve been a lot better off. I can tell you that right now.” He did not address the fact that spending on transportation infrastructure is determined by Congress. In his candidacy announcement, he pledged to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure “on time and under budget.” Trump’s pursuit of better infrastructure landed him in the political cross hairs earlier this year. Just after the fatal Amtrak train derailment in May 2015, Trump jumped headfirst into the fray via Twitter: “Amtrak crash near Philadelphia, train derails -many hurt, some badly. Our country has horrible infrastructure problems. Pols can’t solve!…The only one to fix the infrastructure of our country is me – roads, airports, bridges. I know how to build, pols only know how to talk!” At the time, he was blasted with using the tragedy as a platform for his possible Presidential run.
In a 2012 interview with Greta van Sustren, Trump reiterated his support for domestic oil production. He said, “Honestly, we’re taking oil from Canada. We’re paying Canada a lot of money. We don’t even need Canadian oil if we did it right. The really right way is to drill our own oil. We have so much of it we don’t know what to do. Between natural gas and oil and lots of other things, we should be doing our own.”
In the same interview, when the pipeline debate was still raging, Trump said that he found it “disgraceful” that a permit for the pipeline had not been approved. “Frankly, we don’t need Canada. We should just be able to drill our own oil. But as long as it’s there, we certainly should have approved it. It was jobs and it was cheaper oil.”