Is it mad or deeply cynical to say that the outcome of the US presidential election doesn’t really matter for the energy sector? Surely there are big differences of belief between the two candidates, reflected in their stated policy positions? Surely their supporters are giving their votes and money to bring about changes they believe in? True, but if you take a step back from the noise and fury of the campaign it is worth asking whether the sector will be very different in 2025 if Hillary Clinton prevails or if the recent drift in the polls continues and President Donald Trump is inaugurated on January 20. The Republican and Democratic platforms are certainly different. Mrs Clinton is promising to build on the steps taken by Barack Obama – for instance, using regulations to clean up the power sector, potentially pushing out more coal. She has also said there will be an extra 1m solar roofs by 2030. On fracking, her position is summed up by this statement, made at a Democratic debate in March and clearly scripted in advance: Mr Trump, meanwhile, has been clear on direction but avoided detail. As a non-believer in climate change – a concept he has said was dreamt up in China to add competitive costs on US industry – he is happy to see fossil fuel production continue unfettered by what he sees as unnecessary regulation. He has the support of the coal industry but the rest of the conventional energy business has been slow to endorse or fund his candidacy – in sharp contrast to the backing given to past Republican candidates, including George W. Bush and his father. Many fear that any attempt to implement Mr Trump’s policies will provoke a new wave of militant environmentalism.
FT 26th Sept 2016 read more »