Government

Trump Lays Out Energy Plan at Shale Conference

PITTSBURGH – The Republican Party’s nominee for president, Donald J. Trump, says he wants to develop an “America First” energy plan that would open federal lands for oil and gas exploration, remove regulatory red tape, and proceed with energy projects that have stalled under the Obama administration.

All of this, he said, would enable energy companies to move forward with their plans to open up vast oil and gas reserves in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays in Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio.

“The development of the Marcellus and Utica shales will fundamentally change the landscape of this region,” Trump told an audience at this year’s Shale Insight conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center downtown. “More jobs, higher wages, a larger tax base, and dollars flowing into our country for a change, instead of out of our country,” he pledged.

Meanwhile, outside the convention hall, demonstrators representing a variety of activist groups gathered to protest the environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing and the presence of the candidate at the forum Thursday.

Trump said that the energy reserves trapped in the Utica and the Marcellus would usher in a “shale revolution” that in turn would create demand in other economic sectors, including steel. “Under a Trump administration, we are going to bring back steel jobs and we are going to rebuild this nation.”

A major component of Trump’s plan is to remove federal restrictions that inhibit oil and gas exploration in areas of the country controlled by the federal government. “Currently, less than 10% of the federally managed surface and mineral estates are leased for oil and gas development. Almost 90% of our nation’s offshore acreage is off-limits to energy production,” he said.

He also vowed to support the coal mining industry – an important issue in Pennsylvania and West Virginia –which has experienced substantial declines as the nation moves to more natural-gas fueled operations other than coal-burning industrial interests.

Trump took the opportunity to seize on a comment made earlier by his rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, who suggested that her policies would put coal miners out of work.

“She has not only declared war on the miners, but on oil and natural gas production – which supports 10 million jobs in the United States,” Trump said. “Hillary Clinton wants to put the coal miners out of work, ban hydraulic fracturing in most places, and extensively restrict and ban energy production in public lands and in most offshore areas.”

Instead, Trump noted that his energy and economic development plan would increase the gross domestic product by $100million annually and create more than 500,000 jobs each year.

Although billed as a major speech on energy and trade policy, Trump initially used the forum to also address the recent upheavals and racial tensions in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Our country looks bad to the world,” he told the crowd. “How can we lead if we can’t control our own cities?”

Tolerating lawlessness and misconduct, Trump continued, only serves to destroy the lives and communities of the poor. “The people who suffer the most as a result of these riots are law abiding African-American residents who live in these communities,” he said. “It is their jobs, their housing markets, schools and economic conditions that will suffer, and the first duty of government is to protect their well-being and safety.”

He told the crowd that one of the fundamental causes for crime and violence throughout the country is drugs. “We need a national anti-crime agenda to make our cities safe again,” he declared. He then vowed to appoint the best prosecutors, investigators and law enforcement officers to “dismantle the cartels, gangs and criminal syndicates. And I will stop the drugs from flowing into our country.”

Outside the convention, an amalgam of groups – including Black Lives Matter – demonstrated against the candidate’s appearance in Pittsburgh and the oil and gas industry.

“We have issues with both of those worlds,” said Reid Joyce, one of the protestors who joined a march through downtown Pittsburgh Thursday. “We believe that shale development poses great risks to everybody, and so does Trump.”

About 100 or so demonstrators marched from the convention center to the Duquesne Club, where Trump was holding a fundraiser that afternoon. The march was orderly and was executed without issue.

“It’s different coalitions coming together,” said Dianne Arnold, another activist. “These are different people that have some strong feelings over a lot of different issues. It’s also about racial, socio-economic justice and there are not many candidates that we have to look at that can give us what we need.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.