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Presidential Candidates Hold Starkly Different Views On Energy


Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are polar opposites on a long list of issues, including energy. Trump is pushing for an increase in fossil fuels. Clinton has based her energy platform on clean power. We're going to hear two reports on where the candidates are getting their energy advice. Joe Wertz of StateImpact Oklahoma starts us off.

JOE WERTZ, BYLINE: Donald Trump delivered his first major speech on U.S. energy policy earlier this year at a petroleum conference in the capital city of one of the country's most oil-rich states, Bismarck, N. D.


DONALD TRUMP: This is your treasure. And you, the American people, are entitled to share in the riches.

WERTZ: The GOP candidate's campaign stop was arranged with the help of two men. One is North Dakota Congressman Kevin Kramer.

KEVIN CRAMER: The thing that resonates the most with these energy-savvy constituents of mine is his talk about regulation and the reining in of regulations.

WERTZ: Cramer argues much of the mountain West is rich in minerals, but the land and wealth is controlled by the feds.

CRAMER: And that differentiation is really stark, and it makes obvious that it's not the government that creates the jobs. It's the government that gets in the way of the jobs.

WERTZ: So Trump has tapped a businessman who has created a lot of fossil fuel jobs. Harold Hamm is the founder and CEO of Continental Resources, a pioneering producer in North Dakota's Bakken shale. His hardscrabble personal journey from gas station laborer to billionaire energy boss has given him hero status among oilfield workers and corporate executives.


HAROLD HAMM: Donald Trump and Mike Pence will restore the American dream for the next would-be visionary from small-town America.

WERTZ: Hamm didn't respond to an interview request, but he spoke at the Republican National Convention. Hamm's name has been floated as a potential secretary of energy pick. He has a long history of taking geopolitical stands that benefit his oil and gas empire. Hamm insists that Middle Eastern oil is a security threat, but the environment isn't.


HAMM: Climate change isn't out biggest problem. It's Islamic terrorism.

WERTZ: That's an argument Trump used on his path to victory in the GOP primary. It's not clear whether it will be a winning argument in the general election.

MARIE CUSICK, BYLINE: Unlike Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton has made battling climate change the center of her energy plan. I'm Marie Cusick with StateImpact Pennsylvania. The Democratic nominee wants to transform the U.S. into a clean-energy superpower and says we can't keep waiting to act.


HILLARY CLINTON: Future generations will look back and wonder, what were we thinking? How could we possibly be so irresponsible?

CUSICK: And so the Democratic nominee has turned to a young, self-described energy wonk named Trevor Houser to lay out her plan.

TREVOR HOUSER: Voters have a choice this election between a candidate who believes that climate change is a Chinese hoax versus a candidate who has a serious plan.

CUSICK: Unlike Trump, Clinton believes strong environmental policies will spur growth. She wants half a billion solar panels installed throughout the country by the end of her first term. Houser says Clinton's other priorities include pushing for more energy-efficient buildings and reducing the nation's dependence on oil.

HOUSER: Doing those things, we will successfully deliver on the climate commitments that the U.S. made in Paris.

CUSICK: But such a major transition has winners and losers. Coal production has already been on the decline, as it faces competition from natural gas and renewable energy. Some places are getting hit hard with job losses, like the fossil-fuel-rich state of Wyoming, where Houser grew up.

HOUSER: When I was growing up in the '80s following the oil-price collapse, there was large-scale out-migration from the state of Wyoming.

CUSICK: Houser didn't stick around either. Now in his mid-30s, he lives in California, working for the research firm the Rhodium Group. Houser helped craft Clinton's $30 billion plan to retrain coal miners and build clean-energy projects. But the Clinton campaign hasn't offered much detail on how to pay for these investments.

She'll need to rely on Congress for funding. Despite Clinton's strong climate stance, energy policy has become a wedge issue among liberals, with some calling for a total end to fossil fuel production. While she has softened her support of fracking, there's also the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline, which has sparked protests across the country. Clinton hasn't yet taken a position. For NPR News, I'm Marie Cusick. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Joe was a founding reporter for StateImpact Oklahoma (2011-2019) covering the intersection of economic policy, energy and environment, and the residents of the state.
Marie Cusick covers New Yorkâââ
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