‘We will be dominant,’ Trump tells DOE gathering

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, June 30, 2017

President Trump outlined a multipronged effort today to boost nuclear power, export more gas and coal, and expand oil and gas drilling offshore and on public lands.

Speaking to a packed room in the Department of Energy’s Washington headquarters, Trump blasted notions of the need for regulations as “fake” and said his new policies would usher in “millions and millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in wealth” that had been hamstrung by “massive” regulatory overreach during the Obama administration.

In addition to conducting a “complete review” of domestic policies to revitalize nuclear power, Trump said the United States would move to finance high-efficiency overseas coal-fired power plants.

“Ukraine already tells us they need millions and millions of metric tons right now,” he said. “We want to sell it to them and everyone else all over the globe.”

He also revealed a deal struck by Sempra Energy to export liquefied natural gas to South Korea, DOE’s approval of two long-term applications to export additional LNG from Energy Transfer Partners’ Lake Charles project in Louisiana, and what Trump said was federal approval of a petroleum pipeline to Mexico.

“That’ll go right under the wall, right?” Trump joked. “Have it go down a little deeper in that one section.”

Lastly, Trump announced the creation of a new offshore oil and gas leasing program, saying “America will be able to access the vast energy wealth right off our shores.”

“The golden era of American energy is now underway,” Trump said. “The golden era of America is now underway.”

While Trump directed a few jabs at a CNN cameraman and mentioned immigration, his speech did not touch on renewable energy, climate change or reducing emissions. He did tout his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement and approve the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines.

“I didn’t take any heat. I approved them, and that was it,” Trump said. “Protesting or not, I have to do what’s right. People celebrate those two actions.”

In the room were some high-profile congressional Republicans; Abigail Ross Hopper, head of the Solar Energy Industries Association; the head of the Nuclear Energy Institute, Maria Korsnick; coal mogul Bob Murray; oil executive Harold Hamm; and former transition official and nuclear adviser Donald Hoffman.

Trump, who was introduced by Vice President Mike Pence, touched on what he said were “limitless supplies of energy” in the United States, now on the cusp of an “energy revolution.” He pointed to 100 years’ worth of natural gas and 250 years’ worth of “clean, beautiful coal.” The U.S., he said, is the world’s top producer of natural gas and poised to be an exporter.

“We will be dominant,” Trump said.

Before Trump spoke, Cabinet secretaries and industry chiefs praised the administration’s focus on scrapping regulations, touted the oft-repeated call for “energy dominance” and voiced eagerness to leverage domestic gas as an international bargaining chip.

Over jokes about who had the best office, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke agreed the federal government should bolster economic growth through energy exports, repeatedly pointing to liquefied natural gas.

National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said American LNG has been the talk of the town during Trump’s meeting with leaders from India and could again feature tonight during his meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and as the president travels to Europe in coming days.

“It’s not because our LNG is cheaper than Russian gas” but because it is a dependable resource in long-term contracts, Cohn said.

Noting that oil production is increasing at a fast clip, Cohn said the U.S. now has international leverage.

“We aren’t a victim of what other countries are ready, willing and able to do,” he said.

Reporter Emily Holden contributed.