The Center for American Progress has released an analysis outlining the Trump administration’s disparate treatment of the renewables and oil and gas industries, which became even more pronounced after COVID-19 struck.
“Amid the global pandemic, when the renewable energy industry is experiencing significant job losses, the Trump administration has continued to exhibit equal parts neglect and hostility toward wind and solar companies and their workers. Nowhere is this dynamic more apparent than at the US Department of the Interior, which has attempted to grant swift relief to an already-struggling oil and gas industry during the crisis but has made no similar overtures to the renewable energy industry operating on the same public lands and waters,” the Center for American Progress says.
In the table below, the public policy research and advocacy organisation compares the Trump administration actions related to the renewable energy and oil and gas industries since the signing of the first relief package.
||Oil & gas industry
||Renewable energy industry
|Royalties and rental payments collected
||Companies can play lower royalties to taxpayers on their oil & gas leases and suspend their leases.
||Solar and wind companies served with large multiyear bills for rent that do not reflect repeated requests for adjustments.
|Acres of public lands offered through competitive lease sale
|Acres of offshore waters offered through competitive lease sales
||78 million acres
|Number related Trump tweets
Trump’s attitude towards green energy was known long before he got elected as President of the US. It did not improve after that. During the last nearly four years, the number of approved renewable energy projects on public lands and waters plunged, the offshore wind programme ground to a halt, and the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) renewable energy permitting office and its staff were eliminated, while oil and gas industry lobbyists have gotten priority access at the expense of renewable energy.
The Center for American Progress’ analysis shows that the Trump administration has given the green light to seven utility-scale solar projects -- including Gemini in Nevada -- on US public lands to date. Four of these were already in the pipeline when the administration took office. By that same point in Obama’s first term, his administration had approved 11 large solar projects.
The Obama administration approved 21 major solar projects overall.
The Trump administration has approved only one onshore wind project so, and it was already under review when the President took office. The Obama administration gave the go-ahead to eight onshore wind projects in total, half of which by the same point in the first term.
“The Trump administration has failed to hold a single competitive lease sale on public lands for wind and solar energy development, despite being handed a clear blueprint for how to do so,” the Center for American Progress notes, adding that it still “managed to hold dozens of oil and gas lease sales during the same period, offering 24.5 million acres of public lands to the fossil fuel industry.”
But what about offshore renewables? The Obama administration held six competitive lease sales for offshore wind in the Atlantic Ocean and awarded 11 offshore commercial leases. The Trump administration completed two competitive lease sales off North Carolina and Massachusetts, identified during Obama, and then postponed indefinitely the planned New York Bight lease sale. It ordered an environmental review of wind in the Atlantic Ocean, forgetting to do so for oil and gas proposals, leaving in limbo several offshore wind projects, including Vineyard Wind.
“By design or not, President Trump’s antipathy toward renewable energy development is reflected in his administration’s policies—from imposing tariffs to opposing tax credits—that have cost the sector jobs, stunted growth, and impeded the nation’s ability to tackle climate change through reduced power sector emissions.”
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