Trump bashes renewables, promises to feed coal execs

Source: Dylan Brown, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said yesterday he had hope for solar energy, but not yet and not at the expense of natural gas and coal.

The billionaire reality television star also derided wind power as a bird-killing eyesore during a campaign stop in Harrisburg, Pa.

“Everything has its place. Solar absolutely has its place. I think solar is going to be good as time goes by, but right now they have not perfected it,” Trump said.

“And you know, when you have clean coal, when you have natural gas, you’re talking about a fraction of the cost, a fraction of the cost, but they’re putting your businesses out of business,” he said.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reports solar prices are down 70 percent in the last decade. But Trump maintains “it’s not working so good.”

He said, “I know a lot about solar. I love solar, but the payback is, what, 18 years? Oh, great.”

SEIA spokesman Dan Whitten said Trump needed to be better educated. “The economic argument for solar speaks for itself in the form of massive investment among corporations and homeowners alike in new solar energy production,” he said in an email.

“Solar also is a major jobs creator,” added Whitten, “which will benefit any administration over the next four years and beyond.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not track solar employment, but SEIA reports that nearly 209,000 Americans work in the industry.

The number of coal mining jobs is lower at 53,000. Still, coal advocates say salaries are far higher in their industry.

‘Can’t live,’ ‘can’t eat’

Trump is promising to put downtrodden parts of Pennsylvania back to work during his sweep through a region battered by the collapse of coal and steel.

“Your jobs are all gone,” Trump said, blaming 28 years of Pennsylvania voting for Democrats in presidential elections.

Although election forecasters at show him with only a 33 percent chance of carrying the key battleground state, Trump believes he can turn Pennsylvania red because he has proved polls wrong before.

“It’s going to happen,” he said.

For the second event in a row, Trump renewed his promise to put miners back to work and told the story of his massive May rally in West Virginia (Greenwire, Aug. 1).

Trump said between 28,000 and 30,000 people were inside and outside the Civic Center in the state capital of Charleston.

The local Charleston Gazette-Mail reported that venue officials said only 11,600 people were inside the arena and the amount outside was nowhere near 28,000.

Trump’s promises to revive coal have helped give him a massive lead over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in every West Virginia poll. One of his tactics is to reduce mine inspections.

“I have friends that own the mines. I mean, they can’t live, they can’t eat,” he said. “The restrictions, environmentally, are so unbelievable, where inspectors come two and three times a day, and they can’t afford it any longer.”

Trump’s solution is to “use our heads,” which led him to bash international climate agreements.

“We make these environmental deals where we have to adhere here immediately and China doesn’t kick in for 25 years,” he said. “Great. Great negotiating, fellas.”

Chinese coal consumption fell 3.7 percent in 2015 (ClimateWire, March 1).

Trump also panned wind energy. “All your birds, killed. You know, the environmentalists never talk about that,” he said.

In May, Trump claimed wind turbines killed more than 1 million birds every year, double the Fish and Wildlife Service’s estimate.

Turbines also ruin the landscape, Trump said.

“You got all these windmills all over the place, driving you loco when you look at them, right?” he said. “The worst are farms, are the one where each windmill is made by a different company so you’ll have, like, 50 of them, and you’ll have all these different companies, different colors, different shapes, different sizes — looks like a junkyard.”

The American Wind Energy Association responded with a statement, saying, “Wind power has among the lowest impacts on wildlife of any way to make electricity and many people see wind farms as beautiful.”

It added that, “They are good for the economy by producing clean electricity that is two-thirds cheaper over six years, keeping more money in the pockets of consumers, and support a record-high 88,000 jobs.”


Trump has gotten criticism for not understanding energy issues, including saying he didn’t know what liquefied natural gas was (E&E Daily, May 24).

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), a proponent of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas, was mystified when Trump said in recent days that he supported fracking, but also local bans on it — a sharp contrast to most Republicans.

“I don’t think he understands, completely, the issue,” Hickenlooper told The Denver Post. “But that’s not unusual for him.”

In Pennsylvania, a major natural gas producer, Trump has promised to roll back regulations on natural gas.