Putting it in writing: The new White House National Security Strategy goes big on the administration's of-repeated mantra that it's seeking U.S. energy "dominance," mentioning the idea no less than a half-dozen times.
"Unleashing these abundant energy resources — coal, natural gas, petroleum, renewables, and nuclear — stimulates the economy and builds a foundation for future growth," it states.
- The document lists several "priority actions," including: speeding up permitting for infrastructure like pipelines and export terminals and promoting U.S. exports overall; working with allies to protect infrastructure from cyber and physical attacks; and helping achieve "universal access" to affordable energy.
Why it matters: Prominently emphasizing "dominance" in the security strategy signals how the White House is using a multi-pronged rationale to back up its moves to promote U.S. coal and oil-and-gas.
- Officials define "energy dominance" broadly to encompass many energy sources including renewables. However, the administration has focused largely on actions and plans to curb regulations that affect fossil fuels, especially coal, while promoting U.S. natural gas and oil exports.
Climate posture: As we noted yesterday, the plan omits the Obama administration's recognition of climate change as a security threat. However, it does discuss climate in other ways, noting: "Climate policies will continue to shape the global energy system."
Consistent with the White House message at the recent UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany, it makes that case that fossil fuels and other energy forms will be needed to meet rising energy demand in the developing world, while casting U.S. policy as a model for other economies.
- "The United States will remain a global leader in reducing traditional pollution, as well as greenhouse gases, while expanding our economy. This achievement, which can serve as a model to other countries, flows from innovation, technology breakthroughs, and energy efficiency gains, not from onerous regulation," it states.
Overall the plan is consistent with what amounts to a Trump doctrine on climate, which is basically:
- Question the scientific consensus on human-caused warming and throttle back the Obama administration's high priority on the topic with moves like quitting the Paris climate deal and withdrawing regulations.
- But at the same time, recognizing that it's probably wise to do something, and that something is to emphasize natural gas — which is a big factor behind the drop in U.S. CO2 emissions since 2005 — plus a more efficient use of coal and carbon-free nuclear power.
Yes, but: A number of analyses conclude that various White House policies will together slow or even halt the decline of U.S. emissions, putting the country further away from meeting its 2015 pledge in the Paris climate deal to cut emissions 26%–28% below 2005 levels by 2025.
Editor's note: This piece has been corrected to show that for climate, the NSS did not only state: "Climate policies will continue to shape the global energy system."