President Donald Trump said he is lifting an Obama-era policy that curtailed the financing of coal-fired power plants overseas, as he seeks to reorient the U.S. government away from fighting climate change and toward American “energy dominance.”
“We are now on the cusp of a true energy revolution,” Trump told a crowd of executives, lobbyists and laborers at the Energy Department on Thursday. “We are a top producer of petroleum and the No. 1 producer of natural gas. We have so much more than we ever thought possible. We are really in the driver’s seat.”
Trump is celebrating growing U.S. energy exports he says are leading to “millions and millions of jobs” and acting as a force for peace around the world. After decades of dependence on foreign oil, the U.S. is on the verge of becoming a net exporter of energy resources.
“The United States’ big competitive advantage today is low energy prices,” White House economic adviser Gary Cohn said in a discussion with other Trump administration officials before the president’s address. “We are no longer a victim of having to import our hydrocarbons; having to import our oil.”
As part of the White House “Energy Week,” Trump highlighted growing U.S. energy production and reversals of environmental regulations issued under former President Barack Obama’s tenure. In place of major policy announcements Thursday, Trump emphasized how cutting regulation and encouraging domestic fossil fuel producers will help the American economy and benefit American foreign policy.
Read More: Trump’s Plans for a Nuclear Revival Will Begin With a Study
Trump detailed the previous steps he has taken to lift regulations curbing domestic energy production, including moving to rescind rules throttling greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. He also is pulling the U.S. out of the landmark Paris climate accord, in which nearly 200 countries pledged to slash carbon dioxide emissions.
The biggest change he revealed is a reversal on restrictions by the World Bank and other multilateral development banks for financing coal plants in developing nations. The policy was implemented under President Barack Obama. Supporters of the restrictions say they helped combat climate change, while critics say they thwarted the development of advanced coal plants that produce fewer emissions.
Trump also announced a comprehensive review of U.S. nuclear power policy, which could lead to an interagency assessment of how to solve some of the industry’s biggest challenges, including storing spent radioactive waste and competing against low-cost natural gas and wind power.
Earlier Story: Trump’s Plans for a Nuclear Revival Will Begin With a Study
And Trump described new deals aimed at sending U.S. liquefied natural gas to customers in Asia. For instance, Energy Transfer Partners and Royal Dutch Shell Plc on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding to evaluate collaborating on a liquefied natural gas export project in Louisiana. Trump also touted Sempra Energy’s decision to sign an agreement to begin negotiations over selling more liquefied natural gas to South Korea.
He also described U.S. exports of coal to Ukraine, where power plants are built to handle anthracite mined in areas fraught with conflict. Coal exports to Ukraine “will have more to do with keeping our allies free and building their confidence in us than anything I’ve seen,” said Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
On the campaign trail and in the White House, Trump repeatedly has promised to put U.S. coal miners back to work. Vice President Mike Pence said coal mines are reopening already.
“Coal miners are actually going back to work, and the ‘War on Coal’ is over,” Pence told the audience.
The Trump administration also is taking a formal step toward writing a new five-year plan for selling oil and gas drilling rights in U.S. waters, including the Arctic and Atlantic Ocean. The Interior Department is inviting public comments on the next leasing program; rewriting it could take years, and environmental groups have already sued to block the administration from selling new leases in Arctic waters Obama withdrew from consideration last year.