Trump is Winning on Energy Policy Cutting Budgets and Regs, Hiking Exports the Key By Michael R. Caputo

 publisher and former Trump campaign senior advisor Michael Caputo gave a speech to the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York on July 12, 2017. His remarks follow.

Thank you for inviting me to speak today. I especially want to thank Brad Gill and the folks at IOGANY. As a former Trump campaign staffer, I’ve made my opinion known: I think the Russia investigation is a strategy designed and implemented by Democrats to tie President Donald Trump up in knots. And it’s working. They have successfully stalled the implementation of much of the President’s reform agenda.

But not when it comes to energy policy. There, he's making huge headway.

In May of 2016, I was asked by Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus to present a plan to candidate Donald Trump: a group of expensive and talented attorneys were assembling an onslaught of executive orders and other actions that the next President could sign early in his presidency to effectively roll back the worst regulations of the Obama Administration. I met with Mr. Trump about the project, and he gave it his blessing. Meetings between Marcus and the President followed, the experts got to work, and today we have one of the most anti-regulation presidents in modern times.

Energy policy is at the center of those efforts.

The President’s energy policy is pretty simple: boost fracking and revive the coal sector. Of course, there’s inherent tension between these two goals, but his America First Energy Plan is abundantly clear: The Trump Administration will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution to bring jobs and prosperity to millions of Americans.

And though you wouldn’t know it from cable news, Donald Trump acted on his energy agenda immediately and continues to move it forward.

In May, President Trump signed executive orders to increase domestic oil production, one by allowing offshore drilling in Arctic waters. The order instructs the Interior Department to open the Arctic for offshore oil and gas drilling. Now, the U.S. will compete for energy in the Arctic with Russia, who recently announced long-term plans to bring 32 oil rigs to the region where they claim 460,000 square miles of the arctic as national territory. Russia’s moves into the region to secure their grip on those resources went unanswered under President Obama.

No longer. Make no mistake, we are going into the Arctic. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recently signed an order calling for an assessment on just how much oil and gas could be extracted from part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

While most Americans weren’t watching, the Obama Administration placed 265 million acres of land under control of the federal government without properly addressing the concerns of local governments and citizens. President Trump also signed an executive order directing Secretary Zinke to review all this and more.

This order allows the Administration to reopen and lease swaths of land to private companies, creating jobs and profit for local communities. Of course, environmental activists attacked the order as a “giveaway” of land to mining and oil companies.

In particular, the move to protect Bears Ears National Park is controversial because of the monument’s size; it is more than 2,000 square miles. Farmers, ranchers, and the oil and gas industry have urged the Utah congressional delegation to push for a rollback of the protected areas so they could have access to the land for development. It looks likely.

This is particularly interesting because no president has ever used his authority to eliminate or drastically reduce the size of a monument. And just in case this didn’t piss off the left enough, Donald Trump will probably do it again.

One important reason Donald Trump was elected: he promised to cut the size of government.

He’s cutting the Energy Department significantly – including 70% cut in renewable and energy efficiency funding, a 31% cut in the office of Nuclear Energy and a 54% cut in the office of Fossil Energy. Still, not the savage renewable energy cuts Trump’s opponents expected. Broadly, the Administration is asking Secretary Rick Perry for a 9% cut in the Energy Department.

Interior gets a 10% cut. EPA may get up to a 31% cut – Trump is considering all options when working to reduce federal spending. These proposed cuts are set high, and the President is always ready to negotiate. We can expect compromise, but this is a good sign the president is serious about shrinking the size of government.

We have to expect continued legal challenges to the President’s deregulation efforts. Initially, the Administration issued a two-year stay of an Obama-era regulation to limit methane emissions in the oil and natural gas sector; part of the Trump team’s effort to assure regulations are fair to business. Soon after, Secretary Zinke announced that the Bureau of Land Management would replace the Obama methane rule entirely. But just a few days ago, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Obama-era Methane Emissions Rule reinstated - the result of a Clean Air Council lawsuit against the EPA.

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has asked the court to hold off on enforcing its decision until they have some time to consider their next steps.

Let’s face it: Environmental groups will sue the President Trump regardless of policy substance, just to undermine his agenda. If the Administration rushes out policies – like they did with the immigration order – they can expect be overturned by the courts. 

In June, President Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. We remain committed to addressing emissions, just on our own terms. In fact, the US has a history of declining to join international climate treaties yet still managing to accomplish the goals. In 2012, we were the first industrialized nation to reach the goals of the Kyoto treaty despite never formally entering it. I’m not sweating Paris.

Despite the handwringing headlines, the impact of withdrawal from the Paris Accord on US energy policy is likely to be minimal. President Obama never stood a chance to ratify the Paris Accords in the Senate, which would have forced his successor to take four years to withdraw. As a result, the Trump Adminstration has no need at all to enforce the emissions standards set by the accord.

So from the beginning, shame was always going to be Obama’s enforcement mechanism. Climate activists, green politicians, Hollywood geniuses, and the mainstream media always planned to defame and defile any President who dared walk away from the globalist agreement – they just didn’t expect that President to be Donald Trump.

And in case you didn’t notice already, progressive finger-wagging politically correct shaming does not work on Donald Trump.

If we had a President Jeb Bush, or a President Marco Rubio, would they have stood up under the deluge of insults and shame from the activist left? I’ll wager that under Bush, we’d still be the belle of the ball in Paris.

Instead, we’re seeing early indications of a muscular energy policy from President Donald Trump. We heard policy descriptors like “Energy Dominance” out of the White House’s recent Energy Week, which focused on efforts to increase oil, gas, and coal exports to markets around the world. This should result in the White House renegotiating trade agreements to incentivize American energy exports. In fact, natural gas featured heavily in President Trump’s conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India.

And it got even better last week during the President’s trip to Poland, where he pushed for Eastern European nations to purchase American energy products to ease Russia’s grip on their energy security.

By the way, President Trump’s comments implied Eastern Europe was previously “held hostage” by its dependency on Russian energy exports. (Sound like Collusion to you?)

President Trump’s Poland speech is expected to open the door for future energy export deals with Eastern Europe in the coming months. Not years, MONTHS. Already, in April, Secretary Perry approved construction of the Golden Pass export terminal in Texas for shipping liquefied natural gas abroad. More deals like this are coming.

This is real. And to New Yorkers, it’s real sad.

With Andrew Cuomo as governor of New York, the tremendous natural gas news means little for the producers and landowners of the Empire State, where prosperity and private property are held hostage to a progressive agenda.

One interesting note: The Trump Administration recently hosted an event focusing on supporting local and state energy production and hosted several tribal representatives who expressed interest in utilizing energy resources on their lands.

President Trump, who I can tell you with great confidence is really quite bothered by his home state’s fracking ban, might take an early look at the interests of the Senecas and other New York tribes and help put the lie to the Cuomo’s energy policy.

But get ready: The Paris decision to withdraw stirred a new wave of energy from the liberal environmental activists that may have a lasting policy impact, and has already had a cultural impact. Activists have already started advocating to make climate issues a focus in the 2018 and 2020 elections at the state and local, as well as federal, levels.

Former Vice President Al Gore is premiering a new movie on climate change this August, which will focus on the status of climate change since his first movie in 2006. That film, An Inconvenient Truth, was responsible for a spike in liberal activism regarding climate change, and this sequel is likely to add to the similar wave fomented by Trump’s Paris accord withdrawal.

Oh! And let’s not forget: these anti-fracking activists are well funded. In fact, according to Congressmen Lamar Smith and Randy Weber, they’re backed by the Kremlin. The two Republican chairs of house energy committees say the Russian government has been colluding with US environmental groups to circulate “disinformation and propaganda” aimed at undermining hydraulic fracturing.

Lest the left blames this on “those crazy Republicans”, Hillary Clinton herself acknowledged the connection between Russian and American environmental groups in 2014.

Smith and Weber say Russia is doing this without a paper trail, funneling the money through a Bermuda shell company known as Klein Ltd, which moves the money in the form of anonymous donations to a US based nonprofit called the Sea Change Foundation. That foundation then give grants to the groups you see protesting outside your facilities.

Congressmen Smith and Weber are calling on Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to investigate Russia’s work with American environmental activists to prevent the US from developing our natural gas.

The US hydraulic fracturing revolution has transformed the world energy market from $100 to $50 oil, has broken Russia’s dominance of the European natural gas market, and created prosperity where there was none.  

The energy boom is real, its benefits are just beginning to be realized, and it’s here to stay. It could produce the kind of robust economy that lifts incumbent Republicans seeking re-election to Congress.

No amount of Democrat obstruction in Republican-controlled Washington can stop the energy economy. And it’s the economy that affects elections – Donald Trump and the Republican Party don’t have any problems that 4% GDP can’t solve.

But we’re stuck here in New York, where, I must admit, I long ago gave up hope on Andrew Cuomo’s energy policy. And while it’s early, I don’t see any candidate likely to beat him in 2018.

And how will Cuomo’s White House dreams impact his energy policy in his third term? I don’t expect any change at all. He won’t squander the rather expensive progressive cred he’s banked banning natural gas development while he’s seeking the Democratic nomination.

And let’s be clear: Russia’s anti-fracking campaign in the US was a miserable failure – everywhere but New York State. If Secretary Mnuchin investigates Russian collusion with leftist activists, he should start right here in New York State.

I’ll take it one step further: Every oil and gas executive in this room should take five minutes today and write a letter to Secretary Mnuchin asking him to do precisely as Congressmen Smith and Weber advise and investigate Russian collusion with US anti-fracking groups.

I would even say there is probably nothing better you can do for your industry and for our country today. Imagine the impact of bulletproof evidence that the hairy-legged leftists who fought you here in New York with lies and deception - and won - were funded by the Kremlin?

I want to leave some time for Q&A, so I’ll just wrap up: Trump’s focus on energy is creating great opportunities for this industry. And, even with the Senate Democrats dragging their feet on vital confirmations like Federal Energy Regulatory commissioners, the President and his Administration will continue a resolute and methodical march forward, implementing his muscular energy policy.

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