United States: The Future Of Energy And Environment Policy Under A Clinton Or Trump Presidency

Over the next eight weeks, we will provide a broad look at current and emerging issues facing the energy sector in a series of alerts. In this series, lawyers from across the firm will discuss issues ranging from cybersecurity, antitrust and intellectual property to the impact of both Brexit and the upcoming presidential election on the energy industry. Read our recent publications, including articles from a previous alert series published earlier this year.

Following the much-anticipated first round of the presidential debates on Monday, all eyes are on the two candidates and their contrasting visions for the future of the United States. With just under six weeks remaining until the election, we take stock of each candidate's positions on energy, climate change and environmental regulations and discuss what the regulatory landscape might look like under a President Clinton or President Trump. We also offer an analysis of the implications of a potential flip in Senate control coming out of November's many tight Senate races.

1. An About-Face in Energy and Environmental Policy under a Trump Presidency

Donald Trump has been critical of the direction of the Obama Administration on issues of energy and environmental policy and has promised to reverse course on many of President Obama's initiatives. Mr. Trump's most comprehensive statement on his own energy policy, made during a May 26 speech in North Dakota, reflects a desire to achieve US energy independence. To accomplish this goal, he would likely look to scale back federal regulation of the energy sector; increase investment in fossil fuel development and mid-stream infrastructure; and reverse the prioritization and federal investment in renewable energy. Mr. Trump also supports greater use of nuclear power.

Environmental Regulations. Mr. Trump has called for a sweeping deregulation of fossil fuel production and plans to rescind a number of President Obama's cornerstone environmental and energy initiatives and achievements. For example, Mr. Trump has suggested he would rescind the Clean Power Plan—a regulation promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from the nation's energy generation fleet. Mr. Trump has also said that the Waters of the United State rule—another EPA regulation that defines the extent of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act—would go if he were elected.

Reversing these regulations, both promulgated by the EPA, would not be a simple task. A rule reversal would require another EPA rulemaking, complete with a public notice-and-comment process. Mr. Trump might be aided by the ongoing legal fight over the rules, choosing to step back from defending the rules against the legal challenges brought against both by affected stakeholders. Such a move is not unprecedented, but neither is it a guarantee for success. For each rule, environmental groups and other proponents of the regulations have intervened in support. A court could affirm that the regulations were within the EPA's authority and otherwise legally promulgated, even if a new administration tacitly or actively opposes them.

Climate Change. Mr. Trump does not believe that climate change is a top national policy priority and has expressed his intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement reached in late 2015. As with the already promulgated regulations, Mr. Trump may be constrained in his ability to reverse the Obama Administration's commitments. Once the Paris Agreement is ratified—which is predicted to occur by the end of the year—ratifying countries may not withdraw for four years. Even if the United States cannot officially withdraw, however, Mr. Trump could likely limit the impact of the Paris Agreement, which allows countries to set their own objectives and contains no enforcement mechanism, beyond taking a name-and-shame approach to countries that fail to measure up.

Fossil Fuels. Mr. Trump wants to see an increase in fossil fuel development, including increasing investment in coal and natural gas. He has advocated for removing regulatory restraints on the coal industry and protecting and expanding job opportunities for American coal miners. Mr. Trump's proposal also includes a plan to expand production of all types of fossil fuels on federal land, including increased oil and gas exploration and production on the outer-continental shelf. Mr. Trump's broad proposal to implement a freeze on all new federal regulation would also stimulate the fossil fuel industry. While he generally favors the use of hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas production, Mr. Trump has deviated from the Republican platform by agreeing that local governments should have a say in whether fracking can take place in their communities.

Energy Infrastructure. In the aftermath of the Obama Administration's actions on the Dakota Access pipeline, Mr. Trump vowed to expedite the federal government's approval of energy infrastructure projects by doing away with burdensome environmental regulations. Mr. Trump has also indicated that he would encourage Trans Canada to renew its application to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline, reflecting a broad position in favor of the development of oil and gas pipelines.

Renewable Energy. Mr. Trump likely would work to reverse many of the Obama Administration's policies to promote and prioritize the development of renewable energy. Mr. Trump has been critical of renewable energy investments and technologies, citing the demise of federally funded Solyndra as evidence that government investment in renewable energy technologies is not appropriate. Mr. Trump has also criticized solar energy technologies as expensive and unreliable and wind energy technologies for their impacts on birds.

2. Continued Push for Renewables as Part of an All-of-the-Above Clinton Platform

Hillary Clinton has outlined an all-of-the-above energy agenda focused on further investing in clean energy, modernizing America's energy infrastructure, promoting responsible domestic drilling for oil and natural gas, and building on many of the core energy and environmental reforms implemented by President Obama like the Clean Power Plan and Paris Climate Agreement.

Environmental Regulations. Secretary Clinton supports the Clean Power Plan and has characterized it as part of a broader effort she will implement to impose "smart pollution and efficiency standards." Beyond that, Secretary Clinton supports additional domestic policies intended to reduce carbon emissions.

Renewable Energy. A Clinton White House would likely seek to continue the Obama Administration's unprecedented record of support for renewable energy development. Secretary Clinton has vowed to make the United States the next clean energy superpower. Her key proposals in this area include a $60 billion Clean Energy Challenge intended to increase the share of renewable generation to 25 percent of the national energy mix by 2025. Secretary Clinton has also committed to install 500 million solar panels by 2020 to support a goal of generating enough renewable energy to power every home in America.

Energy Infrastructure. Secretary Clinton has issued a large-scale infrastructure plan and has committed to continue to prioritize the permitting, development and repair of large-scale energy infrastructure across the country. Her proposals, if implemented, would build on the Obama Administration's infrastructure permitting reforms, including the administration's most recent efforts to implement Title 41 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST-41), which outlines a wide range of policies intended to streamline the federal permitting of large infrastructure projects.

Climate Change. Secretary Clinton has made a commitment to stand by the Paris Climate Agreement and other international agreements to reduce carbon emissions. The Clinton platform echoes Secretary Clinton's own statements directly: "We are committed to getting 50 percent of our electricity from clean energy sources within a decade, with half a billion solar panels installed within four years and enough renewable energy to power every home in the country." Without invoking the term "carbon tax," the party platform also provides, "Democrats believe that carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases should be priced to reflect their negative externalities, and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy."

Fossil Fuels. Secretary Clinton has adopted an all-of-the-above energy strategy. She has spoken out in favor of natural gas development, citing it as a bridge fuel in the transition away from coal. Like Mr. Trump, Secretary Clinton has indicated she supports fracking, but also believes that deference should be given to local municipalities who wish to ban fracking in their communities. That said, a Clinton presidency would also likely bring a continued uptick of regulations on coal, oil and natural gas development, including through higher efficiency standards and increased investment in renewable energy. In particular, Secretary Clinton has indicated her support for current policies that either explicitly aim to cut or otherwise have the effect of cutting back on the use of coal in the energy mix. She has proposed a set of programs for economic development, job training and re-education of US coal miners to address the anticipated shift away from coal and "make them an engine of US economic growth in the 21st century." In addition, Secretary Clinton has indicated an intent to put in place policies to control methane emissions and close tax loopholes that oil and gas companies currently enjoy.

3. Congressional Races to Watch This November

Control of the Senate is in play in the upcoming election, and a shift in power would bring a potentially dramatic shift to the direction of both the Senate Environment and Public Works and Energy and Natural Resources Committees. In addition to the general party platforms, the Senate leadership on each side of the aisle would bring their own policy preferences, whether continuing as or acceding to the chair of these committees. If the Senate flips—or if Democrats win control of the House or the presidency—there also will likely be a more forceful approach to corporate oversight, including through an uptick of Congressional investigations of energy companies on hot-button issues like hydraulic fracturing or climate science.

Environment and Public Works. Senator James Inhofe (R – OK), who is not up for reelection, is the current chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Senator Inhofe, famously skeptical of the science on climate change, strongly supports scaling back environmental regulation and opening up domestic energy production.

For the Democrats, Barbara Boxer (D – CA) is the current ranking member of the committee, and a former chair. But Senator Boxer's term is up in January, and she is not seeking reelection. Senator Tom Carper (D – DE) is expected to favor the Environment and Public Works Committee among those he would have an opportunity to lead. He is likely to succeed Senator Boxer as ranking member or, in the event of a Senate flip, be selected chair.

Energy and Natural Resources. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R – AK), who is expected to easily win reelection, is the current chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Senator Murkowski has spent much of the current term shepherding a bipartisan, omnibus energy bill through Congress, work which continues as the bill sits in conference committee today. Senator Murkowski has been a strong advocate of resource development and an "all of the above" approach to energy. She supports energy exploration and production on federal land, in her home state of Alaska and elsewhere.

Senator Maria Cantwell (D – WA), who is not up for reelection, is the ranking member of the Committee and is likely to be selected as the chair if the Democrats win control of the chamber in November. Senator Cantwell bills herself as a champion of "smarter energy policies that harness economic opportunities in clean energy to diversify America's energy sources, grow the clean energy economy and lower costs for consumers."

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions