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Trump's Climate Plan Out-of-Step as Most Americans Want Renewables

Posted by Lauren McCauley, Common Dreams

Jan 26, 2017 9:09:36 AM

Though the president once called renewable energy "an expensive way of making the tree-huggers feel good about themselves," even his own party is split.

President Donald Trump's so-called "America First Energy Plan" may be dedicated to tapping domestic fossil fuel reserves—like fracked gas, oil, and even coal—but it turns out that the majority of Americans would rather see a move towards renewable sources, such as wind and solar.

A Pew Research survey published Monday found that 65 percent of Americans "give priority to developing alternative energy sources, compared with 27 percent who would emphasize expanded production of fossil fuel sources."

Wind Farm image credit Kev Lewis/cc/Flickr

The will of the people is not reflected in the Trump administration's so-called "America First Energy Plan." (Photo: Kev Lewis/cc/flickr)

While a full 81 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents favor renewable power over the polluting alternatives, even Trump's own party is split. "Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are closely divided," Pew notes, with 45 percent of conservatives saying that priority should be given to developing alternative sources, versus 44 who prefer to expand production of oil, coal, and natural gas.

As for the Trump's new energy policy, unveiled last week on the updated White House website, it says the U.S. will "embrace the shale oil and gas revolution," taking advantage of untapped reserves, "especially those on federal lands that the American people own." It also calls for "reviving America's coal industry," through "clean coal technology"—largely deemed a "myth."

The plan makes no mention of renewable energy sources, nor does the website include the phrase "climate change," which Common Dreams pointed out last week.

In his analysis of the "America First" plan, Climate Central's Bobby Magill notes that the commander-in-chief once called renewables "an expensive way of making the tree-huggers feel good about themselves."

In fact, Magill notes, "renewables are some of America's largest untapped sources of energy. For example, America's offshore wind power potential is so huge that if fully developed, offshore wind farms could produce four times the electricity currently generated in the U.S. today, according to the U.S. Department of Energy." (Trump has also said he was "personally offended" by "ugly" and "awful" wind turbines that threatened to mar the view from his Scottish golf courses.)

This contrasts with the White House's claim that the U.S. boasts $50 trillion in untapped oil and gas reserves, which Magill called "a huge mischaracterization" of U.S. resources.

The energy blueprint also doubles down on Trump's campaign promise to slash "burdensome regulations on our energy industry."

Shortly after the new energy plan was published Friday, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus issued a memorandum declaring a government-wide freeze on new or pending regulations, which included four new Obama administration policies designed to increase energy efficiency, the Washington Post noted.

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