Trump raises environmental concern with call for more drilling

Source: By Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register • Posted: Friday, May 27, 2016

In a major energy speech Thursday, Donald Trump promised to lift regulations that hinder oil and natural gas production and vowed to greenlight the Keystone XL pipeline, while casting doubt on the affordability of wind and solar energy.

Iowa environmentalists said Trump, who clinched the Republican presidential nomination Thursday, would throw the country back to the blackened skies of the industrial age, sacrificing the environment for profit.

“The problem with unbridled capitalism is, it hurts everybody except the few making lots of money,” said Wally Taylor, an attorney for the Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club.

“He doesn’t care who or what gets hurt, especially the environment,” Taylor said.

Trump took repeated shots at Democratic  front-runner Hillary Clinton, saying her energy policies would be “much worse” for the U.S. than those of President Barack Obama.

“She will shut down energy production across the country,” Trump said. “Millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth will be destroyed as a result.

“She’ll escalate the war against the American worker and American energy.”

Trump pointed to the boom North Dakota experienced with historic oil production, which has since turned into a bust.

“North Dakota shows how energy exploration creates shared prosperity,” he said. “Better schools, more funding for infrastructure that we need throughout our country, higher wages and lower unemployment, things we’ve been missing for a long time.”

Even while calling for an all-of-the-above energy approach, Trump called wind and solar energy “very expensive.”

“Without subsidy, wind doesn’t work,” he said.

But John Boorman, vice president of the Iowa Wind Energy Association, said all sources of energy get subsidies, including billions of dollars annually for the oil industry.

Federal tax credits for wind, he said, are scheduled to expire in five years.

“Those incentives have driven billions of dollars of investment,” Boorman said, pointing to a recent announcement from MidAmerican Energy that it would pour $3.6 billion into wind generation.

And, Boorman said, wind blade, turbine and tower manufacturing has created about 7,000 jobs in Iowa, a national leader in wind energy generation.

The industry also took exception to Trump’s statement that wind farms killed “more than a million birds a year,” including eagles.

The industry said Trump is off by “orders of magnitude,” adding that less than 5 percent of bird deaths caused by humans are from wind turbines.

Trump touted his support of the Keystone XL pipeline, saying he would approve the project but would require that “the American people be given a significant piece of the profits.”

Trump said he would look to Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad for advice on ethanol, when asked about legislative efforts to end government support for the renewable fuel by 2022 or earlier.

The Renewable Fuel Standard is a mandate that requires ethanol and biodiesel be blended into the nation’s fuel supply.

“A lot of people want that to happen, and we will be making a decision soon,” Trump said.

Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, said Trump has shown continued support for ethanol, both in Iowa and in other states.

“If his chief adviser is Gov. Terry Branstad, I feel pretty good. There’s no governor that’s done more to defend the Renewable Fuel Standard and promote renewable fuels,” Shaw said.

U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, a Republican from North Dakota, said he has recommended to the Trump campaign that it should let expire two popular government programs — the Renewable Fuel Standard and production tax credit for wind power.