Oct 20, 2017

Trump's energy policy swims in the swamp

President Trump campaigned on draining the swamp, but in three different energy areas, he's taken steps that are classic Washington moves. Let's run them down:

  1. His administration has, for now, capitulated to the demands of corn-state lawmakers worried about EPA considering scaling back a federal biofuels mandate. Big Corn is alive and well inside the swamp (and in the corn-rich battleground Iowa).
  2. The Energy Department gave a conditional $3.7 billion loan guarantee to a struggling nuclear reactor project under construction. President Obama gave the project $8.3 billion in three other loan guarantees. To be sure, this is only a guarantee in the event of a default, but it's nonetheless classic Washington picking perceived winners and losers.
  3. The Energy Department is asking an independent federal agency to issue a rule that would ensure a resilient grid -- and also benefit energy sources Trump has said he wants to help revive: coal and nuclear power. While this is a rare regulatory step, it is a prime example of an administration using all the Washington levers it has at its disposal to fight market trends.
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