Trump Ignores Reality of Energy Market in 1st Congress Address
By Kate Galbo, Programs Manager
In his first address to Congress on Tuesday night, President Donald Trump offered “alternative facts” about the fossil fuel industry, while failing to mention the boom in clean energy jobs across the country. Instead of talking up the more than 3 million domestic jobs that been created in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industry, Trump touted the “tens of thousands of jobs” that construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines could create.
Falsehood: Ending the “war on coal”
First, Trump returned to an all-too-familiar theme of saving the coal industry. He boasted his “historic efforts” in cutting regulations on coal, claiming that they “threaten the future and livelihoods of our great coal miners.” On February 16th, Trump signed a bill eliminating Obama’s coal mining rule, the Stream Protection Rule, that protects waterways from coal mining waste.
A report from the Congressional Research Service found that the rule would have created as many jobs as it cost, reducing coal employment by an average of 260 jobs per year while creating 250 jobs in engineering and biology, as well as jobs that require skills current industry workers already possess, such as bulldozer operations.
But despite Trump’s efforts to win the so-called “war on coal”, industry experts and economists understand that coal jobs are not coming back as long as natural gas and renewable energy remain cheap. After the election, even Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) admitted that ending the “war on coal” may not actually bring back jobs.
Falsehood: New pipelines would create more jobs
Trump’s claim that the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines would create tens of thousands of jobs is false, and it’s not new. The fossil fuel industry, and more specifically the companies that want to build these two pipelines, have been using these numbers for years. But the State Department found that the Keystone XL pipeline would only create 35 permanent jobs and 16,000 direct/indirect jobs that would not last beyond the construction phase. Likewise, the Dakota Access pipeline would only create 40 permanent jobs. Trump’s directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel has also lacks realistic clout. Pipeline segments have, for the most part, already been purchased and constructed.
Reality: Clean energy jobs are booming
Trump can certainly talk the talk, but he ignores the reality of the energy market. Renewable energy and energy efficiency are now top employers in the United States, with a high growth trajectory for the future. Both the solar and wind industries are creating jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the U.S. economy, significantly exceeding U.S. jobs in oil and gas extraction (177,000) and coal mining (50,000).
Trump concluded his speech by setting a vision for what our nation could achieve. He looked back at our country’s 100th anniversary in 1876 when American inventors brought great feats to technology and industrialization. While Trump remains adamant on reviving an outdated 20th century energy source, there is an electric revolution already underway.
About the author: Kate Galbo joined CABA in September of 2015 after receiving a degree in Environmental Policy and Analysis from Boston University. Previously, she conducted research for Policy Studies Institute to help bridge the gap between sustainable development research and society. Kate has previously interned for other Massachusetts non-profit organizations. As Programs Manager, Kate focuses on engaging with our member businesses to take targeted policy action, achieve meaningful emissions reductions, and foster a sense of community.