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Wednesday, January 27, 2021


Future of renewable energy remains uncertain under Trump

Trump opposes the Paris Agreement and the Clean Power Plan. | File Photo/The Cougar

The future of clean and renewable energy remains uncertain with Donald Trump now in office.

Prior to his election, Trump said that climate change is a hoax and said that he would abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. UH Energy Fellow and assistant professor in Stratigraphy, Sedimentology and Glacial Processes Julia Wellner believes that his impact would be impossible to predict.

“The new administration is so frighteningly erratic, it is hard to predict much of anything about what they might do next other than continue to create chaos,” Wellner said. “With that said, one of the things that is nearly certain is that the petroleum industry will fare well under this administration.”

Prior to his presidency, the EPA had just finalized new standards to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. According to the EPA, these new standards would have reduced 510,000 short tons of methane by 2025.

“In terms of burning oil and gas, US emissions rates for a panoply of parameters is at it lowest rate in over a decade mostly because of the use of more natural gas in the power generation sector,” said Michael Krancer, a member of the UH Energy Advisory Board.

In abolishing the EPA, Trump would also abandon their Clean Power Plan.

In an article he wrote for Forbes, Krancer said that Trump’s choice of Scott Pruitt, who has been referred to as a close ally of the fossil fuel industry, as head of the EPA is a good choice and that it opens up a discussion about environmental policy.  

In his article, Krancer said that Pruitt opposes the CPP for going beyond what he believes is EPA’s authority and the Paris Agreement costing too much money.

UH Energy Fellow and Construction Management lecturer Earl Ritchie said in a recent article that the impact of the CPP on renewables would be relatively small.

The CPP is not the only way for renewable energy to grow, Ritchie points out, and that subsidies have a big impact. The two biggest federal subsidies are the Investment Tax Credit and the Production Tax Credit.  

Trump has not directly threatened these credits, and both of these credits are favored by Republicans in states that benefit from these credits. This makes the future of renewable energy growth very uncertain during Trump’s tenure.

“It looks virtually certain that renewables growth will continue, but at a much-reduced pace,” Ritchie said.

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