Jan 31, 2018

Fact-checking Trump on energy

Amy Harder, author of Generate

Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images

President Trump is set to tout his administration's record on energy in Tuesday's State of the Union address. He doesn't have it quite right. Here's what you need to know, based off prepared excerpts.

What he says: We have ended the war on American energy.

  • What it's really like: There is no war on American energy generally speaking. America’s oil and natural gas production rose to record or near record levels under President Obama. That was largely regardless of him, not because of him, but it rose nonetheless.

What he says: We have ended the war on clean coal.

  • What it's really like: There is a war on coal, but it’s being waged mostly by natural gas, another component of Trump’s energy dominance agenda. EPA, under Obama, had a hand in it, but it was secondary. Coal production has ticked up slightly, but the overall trend is still slight and gradual decline.
  • Trump appears to use the word clean coal to describe coal generally speaking, which is not clean. Don’t confuse it with what others consider clean coal, which is to refer to technology technically feasible but commercially cost-prohibitive that allows coal to be burned cleaner by capturing the carbon from a facility and storing it instead of emitting it.

What he says: We are now an exporter of energy to the world.

  • What it's really like: That’s true, but he had nothing to do with starting it. Trump is accelerating what Obama and Congress have already done. Obama streamlined the process for natural gas exports in 2014 and Congress in 2015 lifted the 40-year-old ban on oil exports.

What he doesn't say: Anything about climate change

  • But he did refer to extreme weather events including hurricanes and wildfires. To be clear, those events would have occurred regardless, but scientists say climate change is making them worse.

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