Spotlight Activity: Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth
As electric utilities are governed largely at the sub-national level, there is no comprehensive act or law designating the United States’ federal energy policy. That being said, President Trump’s Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, announced on March 28, 2017, directs the federal government to pursue an aggressive agenda of achieving energy independence and largely encompasses the current administration’s energy-sector policy.
“Energy independence” is defined loosely as a reduced reliance on foreign resources through the increased domestic production of energy, specifically fossil fuels. In his executive order, the President directed the Environmental Protection Agency to review regulations on energy in order to reduce “regulatory burdens that unnecessarily encumber energy production, constrain economic growth, and prevent job creation.”
While the Executive Order mentions renewables as a part of the energy independence strategy, it fails to provide adequate regulatory support for the development and production of renewable energy technology, and actively encourages the reduction of pollution regulations that previously drove the policy shift toward renewables under the Obama administration.
Instead, the policy focuses on expanding the production of coal and coal-fired electricity as a means to grow the American economy while promoting energy independence. It should be noted that there is little evidence that increasing coal production will be economically feasible or will even contribute to the growth of the American economy.
Status: Falling Behind
Although it is disguised as a policy aimed at the promotion of American geopolitical security, this Executive Order is consistent with a rigorous, anti-climate action agenda promoted by President Trump and Republican leadership. Rather than embrace climate change science and promote the profitable transition to a clean energy economy, this administration has used the systematic rollback of climate-friendly policies to protect the fossil fuel industry and reduce regulations limiting carbon pollution.
This policy agenda promises to slow or halt the reduction of American carbon emissions, and potentially even cause them to increase. Furthermore, by rolling back regulations on carbon and other pollution, the administration has set a precedent that will make it difficult to enact strict carbon-reduction policies in the coming years, whether or not a new president is elected in 2020.
Please send the following message to the policymaker(s) below.
Dear President Trump,
Energy independence is vital to American geopolitical security. But we will not reach it through the increased domestic production of fossil fuels alone – we need strong federal support to develop better, more efficient, cheaper renewables so that we can be truly energy independent. Climate change poses as much of a security threat to the United States as a foreign government – in order to protect our security interests while promoting energy independence, we need to move to a clean energy economy.
Please direct the federal government to pursue an aggressive policy of carbon reduction and renewable energy development.
Americans can fill out a contact form on the White House website: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/