Trump’s Energy Dominance Crusade Could Harm US Economy and Environment

When the Trump administration announced that it would open up U.S. waters to oil and gas exploration, the country’s “energy dominance” campaign returned to the spotlight — but what does that even mean?

Energy Dominance: An Old Goal Re-branded

During the Trump presidential campaign, the candidate floated a number of talking points about reinvigorating fossil fuel development as a means of supposedly creating jobs and restoring America’s energy independence.

In June of 2017, the Trump administration rolled out a re-branded version of several Obama-era policies, focusing on energy independence via liquefied natural gas (LNG) sales to Europe. However, in a marked turn from the Obama era, the Trump administration declared that it would open key areas — like Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — for resource extraction.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry explained at the time:

An energy dominant America means self-reliant. It means a secure nation, free from the geopolitical turmoil of other nations who seek to use energy as an economic weapon. An energy dominant America will export to markets around the world, increasing our global leadership and our influence.

Europe has grown tired of Russia threatening its energy security in the form of North Sea supplies, while Saudi Arabia has long been a thorn in many a nation’s side given its power to influence oil markets. As China and India look to become major superpowers — China is arguably already there — there’s added interest in energy independence.

U.S. interest intensified after the oil crisis of the 1970s. But no matter how much oil and gas the U.S. produces domestically, analysts continue to predict that the country cannot be totally energy independent – at least not for any sustainable length of time, given U.S. reliance on oil and gas.

The U.S. still requires oil and petroleum imports, with around 38 percent coming from Canada and over 10 percent coming from Saudi Arabia. While that dependency has declined significantly over the years, it’s unlikely to go away in the next few decades.

Energy dominance, however, suggests the U.S. admits it can’t entirely remove its need for imports, but wants to be able to influence markets and shield itself by being a key force in export sales. Is that even possible?

Well, in the short term, it actually could be, considering that demand for fossil fuels is still a reality. But the U.S. is hampered by one key problem: the fact that it remains committed to operating via a free market. Russia and Saudi Arabia are not encumbered by such a system, allowing them to move far more unilaterally than the U.S. Nevertheless, Europe tends to favor the U.S. over Russia and Saudi Arabia, and would likely prefer to weaken its dealings with Russia.

But so-called energy dominance comes at a price.

What does “energy dominance” look like in practice?

At the moment, energy dominance seems to involve tearing up the Obama-era’s green energy initiatives – reflective of the Trump administration’s poor environmental protection track record.

That means fossil fuel exploration in the Arctic’s previously protected coastal plain, slashing the size of National Parks in states like Utah to allow drilling, using the tax overhaul to preserve $15 billion in tax subsidies for fossil fuels while cutting incentives for renewables and more. It means abandoning the Paris Agreement while systematically working to undercut nearly every single one of its key aims.

At its heart, energy dominance is a strategy that may well give the U.S. a boost to its autonomy, but it will end up isolating the U.S. in the long-term and potentially harming its economic prospects as the world divests from coal, oil and gas and favors renewables.

Energy dominance, therefore, looks a lot like energy isolationism — and that will harm both the U.S. economy and global sustainability efforts.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.


Marty P
Marty P7 days ago

Once the rest of the world turns green what is this Jurassic wonder going to do with the fossil fuels that nobody else wants?

cristiano torchio

trump = Nosferatu = evil = idiot

Jaime J
Jaime J7 days ago

Thank you!!

Alice H
Alice H7 days ago

Self reliant should mean sustainable we could be a leader in green technology instead of a backwards sliding polluted country.

Winn A
Winn Adams8 days ago

Impeach him.

Winn A
Winn Adams8 days ago

tRUMPie is a lunatic.

Ann B
Ann B8 days ago

and lose him the next election WE All NEED TO stand up AND protect the environment now...Florida DOES NOT NEEDTO HAVE OFF SHORE DRILLING LOOK AT THE LAST OIL SPILLS!!!! AND THE DAMAGE IN THE MILLIONS

Chrissie R
Chrissie R8 days ago

Thank you for posting.

Patrice Z
Patrice Z8 days ago

So sad. The harm that is being done to the Earth...

Anne M
Anne Moran8 days ago

How can 1 man,, do so much damage in the world ??