Trump has spent a lot of time campaigning in the coal reliant swing states of Pennsylvania and Virginia. He is now attacking the Obama administration for helping to enact legislation that regulates pollution causing these dirty, outdated power plants to close. He also laid some serious allegations about the state of the energy industry at the feet of the Obama administration.
“The Obama-Clinton Administration has blocked and destroyed millions of jobs through their anti-energy regulations, while raising the price of electricity for both families and businesses,” Trump said at the Detriot Economic Club on Monday. Perhaps he was just playing to the Michigan audience, but he then accused the EPA of killing 50,000 jobs in Michigan alone.
“As a result of recent Obama EPA actions coal-fired power plants across Michigan have either shut down entirely or undergone expensive conversions. The Obama-Clinton war on coal has cost Michigan over 50,000 jobs. Hillary Clinton says her plan will ‘put a lot of coal companies and coal miners out of business.'”
It is true that the Obama EPA has been more vigilant about enacting and enforcing regulation on pollution causing coal fired power plants. Some have been forced to close. The Energy Information Administration blames displacement of coal by inexpensive and clean burning natural gas as the culprit for the woes of the coal industry. Increased regulation is hastening the departure of coal by attempting to curb the huge amounts of pollution caused by the plants. Electricity generated by coal has decreased by 24% from 2008-2012 while electricity generated by natural gas has risen by 39%.
The very low price of oil has eliminated hundreds of thousands of jobs from the energy sector as well, a market force that Obama has no control over. Very inexpensive and clean burning natural gas will overtake coal eventually as an outcome of the market. The regulations on coal fired plants make these options more attractive, as polluting coal plants are forced to clean up.
Has the “war on coal” cost Michigan 50,000 jobs? According to the research journal Energy Policy, from 2008-2012 the coal industry in the US has lost 50,000 jobs total. Donald Trump claims that Michigan alone lost 50,000 due to EPA regulation. It is simply untrue. In addition, the natural gas, wind and solar sectors gained 175,000 jobs in the same time frame.
Trump also called Obama “anti-energy,” which would seem to imply that the regulations under his administration would hamper the production of energy in the US. Oil production hit a 43 year high in 2015. While Obama has been President, the US has seen a historic increase in oil production, mostly due to fracking. Despite low prices, new techniques have increased this production. To call Obama “anti-energy” is absurd, but he has been concerned with climate change and getting our energy infrastructure away from coal and into the 21st century.
Read the Full Transcript of Donald Trump’s Economic Speech