Sep 23, 2016 - 11:00am

Debate Preview: What to Expect from Clinton and Trump on Energy


Director, Communications & Strategy

In just a few days, Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton will take the stage in the first of four scheduled debates in the 2016 presidential race – three between Trump and Clinton and another featuring vice presidential candidates Mike Pence and Tim Kaine.

While we hope the debates will tease out the specifics of each candidates’ plans, we have already heard a lot on the campaign trail about their vision for America’s future, including their thoughts on trade, immigration, financial services, and infrastructure.

Next up: Energy.

Energy is a vital economic component. With affordable and reliable energy, businesses of all stripes can foster economic growth. But when energy becomes less affordable – because of market forces or regulations that restrict production – employment and investment shrink and the whole economy suffers. Here are a few key energy issues that we’ll be keeping a close eye on during Monday’s debate.

Topic: Energy Production On Federal Lands and Waters

Hillary Clinton: "No future extraction [on federal lands]. I agree with that."(Town hall in New Hampshire, July 2015)

American Businesses: Energy production on federal lands – both onshore and offshore – is vitally important to the American people. It boosts our economy, supports good jobs and provides almost one-quarter of the nation’s oil, natural gas and coal, making us less dependent on imports. If we banned energy production on federal lands and water, America’s economy would lose nearly 400,000 jobs and $70 billion in annual GDP.

Donald Trump: “We’re going to lift moratoriums on energy production in federal areas.”(Speech in North Dakota, May 26, 2016)

American Businesses: It’s time we unleash America’s energy revolution. While production of oil and gas on private and state land has risen dramatically in the last few years, production on federal lands has actually declined. Furthermore, the vast majority of federal offshore lands are closed to production—some 86% of the outer continental shelf is off-limits for production and exploration. If we increased access to these undeveloped regions, we could create as many as 690,000 new jobs by 2030.

Topic: Coal’s Role in Our Energy Mix

Hillary Clinton: “We are going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” (Town hall in Columbus, Ohio, March 13, 2016)

American Businesses: The United States has the largest energy resource base in the world and we must continue to use it to our competitive advantage.  We also maintain the best engineers and technology development in the world which ensures we constantly increase our efficiency and reduce our emissions.  A technology-neutral energy policy that embraces all of our energy resources is the most efficient and best path to economic growth, decreased emissions, and economic competitiveness.

One of America’s greatest strengths is its diverse portfolio of energy resources. In 2016, coal is on track to fuel 30% of our electricity needs—second only to natural gas at 36% and followed by nuclear 20%, renewables 7%, and hydropower 7%.  That kind of diversity helps our economy withstand market fluctuations, and is a major contributor to affordable energy that provides U.S. businesses a significant competitive edge in the global economy.

Donald Trump: “We will get the bureaucracy out of the way of innovation, so we can pursue all forms of energy. … The government should not pick winners and losers. Instead, it should remove obstacles to exploration. Any market has ups and downs, but lifting these draconian barriers will ensure that we are no longer at the mercy of global markets.” (Speech in North Dakota, May 26, 2016)

American Businesses: The U.S. has the largest coal reserves in the world, making coal an indispensable foundation of the U.S. energy mix and an affordable and reliable source of energy. Coal energy is necessary to generate the electricity Americans demand, but a swarm of heavy-handed regulations from EPA and other agencies—such as the so-called “Clean Power Plan”—are shutting down coal plants, making it virtually impossible to build new ones, and leaving consumers and businesses left to pay increased energy bills. We must continue to find ways to use coal more efficiently, and invest in technologies that reduce emissions.

Topic: Pipeline Construction

Hillary Clinton: “I oppose [Keystone XL Pipeline] because I don’t think it’s in the best interest of what we need to do to combat climate change.” (Campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, September 22, 2015)

American Businesses: Many areas in the U.S. are already missing out on the full benefits of our energy revolution because it has been difficult to move energy from where it is produced to where it is needed. The fierce resistance to pipeline construction by those who want to “keep it in the ground” is incredibly shortsighted. American economic growth, job creation, and improved quality of life depend on affordable, abundant energy. We can either import it — often from countries that aren’t friendly with us — or rely on domestic sources.

Donald Trump: “I’m saying yes, we will absolutely approve it, I want it built, but I want a piece of the profits.” (Speech in North Dakota, May 26, 2016)

American Businesses:  The energy renaissance has transformed how and where we get energy. As new areas of energy production emerge, new infrastructure is necessary to move it to consumers. As a continent, North America is extremely energy-rich and we benefit from energy trade with Canada and Mexico. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would have provided the United States with the opportunity to access safe, reliable, and affordable energy supplies, and reduce our need to import crude oil from less stable countries and regions of the world..  In addition to improving the nation’s economic and energy security, the proposed project would have provided approximately 42,100 badly needed manufacturing and construction jobs, and contributed an estimated $3.4 billion in benefits to the U.S. economy.  However, the federal government cannot and should never be able to force a private company to disgorge shareholder profits as a condition for a legally required permit.

Topic: Fracking and the Natural Gas Boom

Hillary Clinton: "I don’t support [fracking] when any locality or any state is against it, No. 1. … So by the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place. And I think that’s the best approach, because right now, there are places where fracking is going on that are not sufficiently regulated." (CNN Democratic Presidential Primary Debate, March 6, 2016)

American Businesses: The shale revolution has lowered energy prices and fueled a renaissance in American manufacturing while improving our security by lowering our dependence on foreign oil. Thanks to fracking, the United States has increased total energy production for six-straight years, despite a 10% decrease in coal production. With increased domestic oil and natural gas production, U.S. energy security has improved for three years straight, according to the Institute of 21st Century Energy’s Index of U.S. Energy Security Risk, and oil prices have fallen from $110 a barrel in 2014 to under $50 a barrel in 2016. As a result, households have saved $747.30 per year on energy costs between 2008 and 2014.

Donald Trump: “We’re going to revoke policies that impose unwarranted restrictions on new drilling technologies. These technologies create millions of jobs with a smaller footprint than ever before.” (Speech in North Dakota, May 26, 2016)

American Businesses:  Today, natural gas from shale represents about one-third of all U.S. production and is forecast to supply up to 60% of all U.S. natural gas production by 2030. In fact, the U.S. is poised to become a net exporter of natural gas by 2017. Shale gas presents a significant opportunity to lower our nation’s energy security risk and increase the competitiveness of our manufacturing sector. The reduction in costs for power generation and feedstocks has not only made U.S. manufacturing more competitive, it has also spurred new investments in chemical and steel manufacturing. 

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About the Author

Profile Picture Sarah Keller
Director, Communications & Strategy