WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is set to announce he is lifting an Obama-era policy that curtailed the financing of coal-fired power plants overseas, as he seeks to propel American " energy dominance" and reorients the US government away from fighting climate change.
Trump also will describe a series of other government authorisations and business deals that illustrate how US oil, natural gas and coal are coveted around the world, in a speech marking the culmination of the administration-dubbed "Energy Week," according to a White House official who asked for anonymity to discuss the announcements before they were made public.
Trump’s speech, set to be delivered during his first visit to the Department of Energy, will celebrate growing US energy exports he says are creating trillions in wealth, driving domestic jobs and acting as a force for peace around the world. After decades of dependence on foreign oil, the US is on the verge of becoming a net exporter of energy resources.
"The United States’ big competitive advantage today is low energy prices," White House economic adviser Gary Cohn said in a discussion with other Trump administration officials before the president’s speech. "We are no longer a victim of having to import our hydrocarbons; having to import our oil."
Trump’s speech Thursday is set to highlight growing US energy production, but lacks details on big, specific policy changes. He has already set in motion broad reversals and revisions of environmental policies created during former President Barack Obama’s tenure. Instead, the White House is emphasizing how cutting regulation and encouraging domestic fossil fuel producers will help the American economy and benefit American foreign policy.
The biggest change he is set to reveal is a reversal on restrictions by the World Bank and other multilateral development banks for financing coal plants in developing nations. The policy was implemented under Obama. Supporters of the restrictions say it helps combat climate change, while critics say it has thwarted the development of advanced coal plants that produce fewer emissions.
Trump will also announce a comprehensive review of US nuclear power policy, which could lead to an interagency assessment of how to solve some of the industry’s biggest challenges, including storing spent radioactive waste and competing against low-cost natural gas and wind power, the official said.
Trump is also set to describe new deals aimed at sending US liquefied natural gas to customers in Asia. For instance, Energy Transfer Partners and Royal Dutch Shell on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding to evaluate collaborating on a liquefied natural gas export project in Louisiana.
He is expected to describe US exports of coal to Ukraine, where power plants are built to handle anthracite mined in areas recently fraught with conflict. The US exported at least two-million short tons of coal to Ukraine last year, according to the Energy Information Administration.
Coal exports to Ukraine "will have more to do with keeping our allies free and building their confidence in us than anything I’ve seen," said Energy Secretary Rick Perry.