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.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
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
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). 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 & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd 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 or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.