RELEASE: Trump Administration’s Push for “Energy Dominance” Risks Eroding Public Trust
Washington, D.C. — A new issue brief from the Center for American Progress shows how the Trump administration’s deregulatory actions meant to favor oil and gas companies could erode public trust and backfire in the long run. The brief comes as the U.S. Department of the Interior is due to submit its recommendations to the White House as to which rules, policies, and regulations to change pursuant to President Trump’s executive order to alleviate so-called burdens on energy development, particularly fossil fuel production.
“In his first six months in office, President Trump has acted early and often to sell out our public lands and waters to corporate interests,” said Kate Kelly, public lands director at CAP. “As we’ve seen with fracking bans in states and counties across the nation, when Americans don’t have confidence that the government has commonsense protections in place to protect clean air and clean water, they take matters into their own hands. In his rush to dismantle protections for public health and the environment, Trump is not only putting communities at risk, but also undermining the social license that the oil and gas industry needs to operate on public lands and waters.”
CAP’s paper outlines four areas where the Trump administration is tilting the scales in favor short term fossil fuel industry gains at the expense of public trust: rolling back health and safety standards, reducing opportunities for public input, opening up drilling in sensitive places, and allowing the oil and gas industry to underpay the American people for their resources.
“Ironically, oil and gas companies are sitting on almost 8,000 unused permits, but President Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke are risking the most important permit of all: the social license to drill,” said Mary Ellen Kustin, policy director for public lands at CAP. “While the administration may succeed in lining the pockets of energy executives until the next election, its misguided quest for ‘energy dominance’ will undercut industry in the end.”
The brief points to lessons learned from the Bush administration’s lopsided oil and gas leasing policies that favored industry at the expense of other uses of public lands, including outdoor recreation. This approach resulted in lease sales that were consistently delayed and caught up in costly litigation. In response, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) implemented new policies that added transparency to the leasing process and better reflected the public’s priorities for public lands. Should the Trump administration continue on this short-sighted path of “energy dominance,” the brief argues, it will set up the American people, the environment, and the fossil fuel industry for a lose-lose-lose situation.
Click here to read “Social License to Drill: How the Trump Administration is Ruining the Relationship between Americans, Public Lands, and Energy Production.”
For more information or to speak to an expert, contact Allison Preiss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.478.6331.