President Trump Has Kept His Energy Promises; Biden Wants to Undo Them

On energy, President Donald Trump has Made America Great Again. In 2019, after 62 years, the United States achieved energy independence, meaning that as a nation we produced more energy than we consumed. In 2019, the United States produced more oil and more natural gas than either Russia or Saudi Arabia. In fact, in June 2020, the U.S. actually exported oil to Saudi Arabia! 

The oil and natural gas renaissance came about with the introduction of hydraulic fracturing, which the Obama administration tried several times to discredit, only to be unable to find any signs of water pollution from its use. Even under the Obama/Biden EPA, the science showed there was nothing to fear from properly conducted hydraulic fracturing. Presidential Candidate Biden and Vice Presidential Candidate Harris have both indicated during their primary campaigns that they want to ban the technology, despite Joe Biden reneging on that pledge whenever he visits Pennsylvania—the second-largest natural gas-producing state in the nation due to hydraulic fracturing.   

This post will analyze President Trump’s accomplishments vs. Joe Biden’s plan to undo them include:

Natural Gas

President Trump has made it easier to obtain LNG project approvals and to access federal land for oil and gas development. Under President Trump, LNG exports have been consistently authorized by the Department of Energy as part of the pursuit of American energy dominance. The approval process for pipelines has been simplified under the National Environmental Policy Act, which sets time limits on how long environmental reviews can take for federal projects. According to Energy Secretary Brouillette, “the Trump Administration is committed to expanding pipeline development that will unleash our abundant domestic energy sources while providing choice, affordability, and reliability to consumers.”

In contrast, Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden would block new access for exploration and production on federal lands, denying public land states billions of dollars in revenue for their schools and roads, along with the jobs created by these activities. Biden’s climate platform calls for “every federal infrastructure investment” and “any federal permitting decision” to consider greenhouse gas emissions and climate impacts. That suggests that Biden would make it more difficult to obtain LNG export authorizations and gas pipeline approvals, with extra layers of review and a greater likelihood that some projects would be rejected. Such reviews would also be subject to Biden’s emissions targets, which would phase out natural gas unless carbon capture technologies became economic. 

President Trump has also rolled back Obama-era methane regulations and is close to finalizing some of those reversals. Biden’s platform, in contrast, calls for “aggressive methane pollution limits for new and existing oil and gas operations.” This would likely involve numerical targets for methane reductions and require the use of very expensive and complex best-in-class technologies governing leak detection and repair which would add to consumers’ energy bills.

President Trump has continued to lease federal lands for natural gas development and his Administration has eased permitting requirements for leaseholders. In contrast, Biden has proposed banning new drilling on federal lands, which would slow down drilling activity primarily in tight gas formations in the Rocky Mountains, where most land is federal. 


Similar to natural gas, President Trump has continued to lease federal lands for oil development. Recently, his administration is moving forward with plans to lease land for oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)—the 1.6 million-acre coastal plain on Alaska’s North Slope—that was authorized in a 2017 budget bill and on federal lands in Kern County, California, which will be the first drilling auction in the state since 2013 when they were halted due to lawsuits by state officials. In both cases, the oil and gas auctions will be held by this December. California has sued the Trump Administration to stop the lease sales there and Joe Biden has promised to block drilling in ANWR, if elected president

The Trump Administration has also revised well control rules established after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling accident and eliminated penalties on oil and gas developers for incidental deaths of migratory birds, expanding the treatment the Obama Administration had granted to wind and solar projects. President Trump also approved the Keystone XL pipeline, which required a Presidential permit to cross the U.S. Canadian border and which the Biden/Obama Administration had determined was “not in the national interest,” and his Administration rewrote the definition of which streams and wetlands are subject to Clean Water Act protections.  The Biden/Obama Administration had proposed that even lands where occasional puddles formed would be subject to the control of Washington, D.C.


President Trump rolled back Obama’s fuel economy standards. The Trump rule rolled back a 2012 standard that was finalized on January 12, 2017—only 8 days before President Trump took office—under a required mid-term evaluation, which required automakers to sell vehicles with an average fuel economy of 54 miles per gallon by 2025, replacing the requirement with a standard of 40 miles per gallon. The Trump Administration rule requires automakers to increase the average fuel economy of passenger vehicles by 1.5 percent annually, compared with a 5 percent annual increase that the Obama rule required. The Trump Administration estimated that the rule would lead to 3,300 fewer fatalities and 46,000 fewer hospitalizations after crashes over the lifetime of vehicles through model year 2029. Consumers would see a $1,400 reduction in the total cost of owning a new vehicle, accounting for the higher fuel costs, and it would lead to 2.7 million additional new vehicles being sold due to increased affordability. Many believed the Obama standards were so strict automakers would be forced into making electric vehicles, regardless of market interest by consumers.

In contrast, Biden’s plan calls for transforming the energy sources that power the U.S. transportation sector in favor of electricity and renewable fuels for commuter trains, school and transit buses, ferries, and passenger vehicles. The plan includes replacing the current petroleum-based infrastructure with electric charging stations. The transformation will be enormously expensive. Electric vehicles currently are a niche market due to the higher cost of electric vehicles, their lower range, limited truck space, and other unfavorable attributes. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that Americans are wary of mass transit and prefer their personal vehicles.

Environment and Clean Air

President Trump announced that he will remove the United States from the Paris Agreement, which is beneficial to China and to developing nations that can grow their emissions and improve their economies using affordable and reliant fossil fuels, while U.S. consumers would see increased energy costs from the programs that the Obama Administration instituted to comply with the greenhouse gas reductions that Obama pledged for the United States without Congressional approval. As a result, President Trump’s Administration rolled back President Obama’s Clean Power Plan and replaced it with the Affordable Clean Energy rule—a far less onerous regulatory program for fossil fuel generation. Further, without the onerous regulations of the Obama Administration, the United States has enjoyed the largest absolute decrease in carbon dioxide emissions of any country since 2000 by just letting the free market work.

In contrast, Democratic nominee Joe Biden is calling for all fossil fuels, including natural gas, to be eventually phased out under a net-zero emissions economy. Biden is targeting net-zero emissions by 2050 and a totally carbon-free power sector by 2035. He will implement these initiatives with the help of Congress, which means that there will be new taxes or fees that will make Americans pay more for energy thereby forcing them to use less fossil fuels. Biden’s plan will only serve to make us more dependent on China, who is in control of the rare earth minerals needed in the manufacture of wind turbines and solar panels as well as for cell phones and military equipment. China is also the world’s largest producer of batteries and produces the vast majority of solar panels. 

President Trump believes in clean air and in improving our nation’s air quality. In fact, the combined emissions of criteria air pollutants and their precursors, which are regulated under the Clean Air Act, has improved by 77 percent over the last 50 years, including 7 percent under President Trump. It is the criteria pollutants that the Asian countries are trying to reduce by building supercritical coal plants. China is building 200 gigawatts of new coal-fired plants and currently has more coal capacity than the entire fleet of all U.S. power plants.


The Trump Administration has made American energy independence a priority through an all-of-the-above strategy that includes oil and gas, strategic minerals and renewable sources such as wind, geothermal and solar—all of which can be found on public lands. President Trump knows America needs reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible forms of energy and is ensuring that we have access to them. Joe Biden’s policies would do the opposite, reducing reliability and increasing costs substantially.

For more information on these issues check out AEA’s Vote Energy 2020 election hub.

Speak Your Mind


Anonymous says:
Your email has been received. Thank you for signing up.