President Donald Trump’s policies on oil, gas and mining have been the topic of scrutiny since he took office in 2016. President Trump has fashioned himself as a pro-fossil fuel and mining politician with an overall preference for conservative energy sources.

Trump v Biden and the future of the extractive industry

“The golden era of American energy is now underway” says President Donald J. Trump, when referring to his policies that will unleash American energy dominance. According to fact sheets published by the White House, President Trump has implemented policies that will help America achieve energy dominance in exchange for rolling back policies that he describes as “stifling”.

Part of this initiative is America’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, which according to UNFCC, ‘aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change.’ This happened today.

In the past, he has time and again vowed to end the Obama-administration’s so-called war on coal. In a successful move, President Trump did away with “costly Obama-era regulations like the Stream Protection Rule and the Clean Power Plan.” These policies were part of the Obama-administration’s attempt to mitigate harm caused by global warming and the pollution of streams due to mining activities. Of course, it came at the cost of jobs in so many of America’s mining regions.

The removal of both these policies allows for freer mining and the use of fossil fuels. In fact, the undoing of the Stream Protection Rule was one of the first policy decisions that President Trump took after being sworn into office. This policy however, has not worked. The jobs President Trump promised didn’t increase or come back.

Other significant pro-traditional fuel policies during the Trump-administration were the approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Keystone XL Pipeline, and the New Burgos Pipeline. This aggressive move coincides with the Department of the Interior organising 28 onshore oil and gas lease sales in 2018, which generated a record-shattering $1.1 billion in revenue.

White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer explained President Trump’s stand on energy. He said, “Well, I think the President has made very clear with respect to energy policy that he wants to review all of the options that we have to use our natural resources to better the country in terms of wind power, solar, clean coal.  We’re in the process of reviewing all of our energy policies”.

The two Executive Orders that President Trump signed in April 2019 significantly eased regulations that restricted private companies from activities like mining, fracking, construction of pipelines, etc.

The merit of these Executive Orders, he said, is in the fact that, “The United States is blessed with plentiful energy resources, including abundant supplies of coal, oil, and natural gas.  Producers in America have demonstrated a remarkable ability to harness innovation and to cost-effectively unlock new energy supplies, making our country a dominant energy force”. He went on to add, “The United States will continue to be the undisputed global leader in crude oil and natural gas production for the foreseeable future.”

In the constant fight that presidential campaigns are, Donald Trump took it one step forward with his tweet claiming that Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris will destroy Pennsylvania with their green energy policies. (Pennsylvania is a key swing state).

Democrat presidential candidate, Joe Biden’s energy plans are as far off from Donald Trump’s vision as can be. Called ‘Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice’, Biden’s plan is a consolidation of policies aimed at tackling climate change while creating jobs that support a greener future.

The Clean Energy Revolution, some say, is drastic and bold. An example of this is Biden’s plan to invest $400 billion over a span of ten years in clean energy and innovation.

Biden’s policies addresses the insecurity caused by the changing climate. The argument in favour of the policy states, “From coastal towns to rural farms to urban centers, climate change poses an existential threat – not just to our environment, but to our health, our communities, our national security, and our economic well-being.”

The Green New Deal is a framework that intends to implement ambitious plans that address climate change at scale and will align the interests of the environment and the economy.

“If we can harness all of our energy and talents, and unmatchable American innovation, we can turn this threat into an opportunity to revitalise the U.S. energy sector and boost growth economy-wide. We can create new industries that reinvigorate our manufacturing and create high-quality, middle-class jobs in cities and towns across the United States. We can lead America to become the world’s clean energy superpower.” It is evident that the plan is an ambitious one, but might also be the only way to fulfil its objectives.

Having repeatedly criticised Trump’s move to give a free pass to fossil-fuel dependent companies, Biden recently commented on the approval Bristol Bay mine. He said, “Bristol Bay is no place for a mine — our administration decided that in 2014. We’re only discussing it today because Donald Trump’s EPA reversed course hours after a closed-door meeting with the mining company’s CEO.”

The Biden Plan promises to achieve a 100 per cent clean energy economy and to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The plan claims that it will go beyond the Obama-Biden Administration by signing Executive Orders on day one. This means more stringent policies that will not be in favour of mining and fossil fuel industries.

The Green New Deal is also set to impact infrastructure investment so that it can withstand damage caused by climate change. If elected President, Biden has also promised to rally the rest of the world to take up the cause of environment protection. Apart from recommitting the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement, Joe Biden intends to go further by integrating climate change into foreign policy, national security strategies and trade. (The exact details of how this will happen aren’t clear according to some experts).

An integral part of Joe Biden’s plan is to uplift workers and communities, leaving no one behind. As a healthcare initiative, Biden will increase coal companies’ payments for benefit programs for miners and workers. In the past Biden has come out in support of a protest by Kentucky miners.

The stark contrast between the energy policies of the two presidential candidates, Trump and Biden, cannot be missed. No matter who wins, the mining and fossil-fuel industry is nearing a revolution.

For more please take a look at our three main headlines on coal, energy and fossil fuels here.

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