President Trump's executive order rolling back energy regulations is unlikely to spawn a surge of jobs or a quick reduction of fuel prices.
Coal jobs will not suddenly come roaring back, the price of electricity will not go into reverse. Increased federal land rights for oil and natural gas will eventually clear the way for more US energy production, while fewer regulations for oil and natural gas could contribute to lower energy prices in the long run, and lower fuel economy standards could bolster gasoline demand.
These are some of the predictions from USA Today following President Trump’s executive order rolling back energy regulations. The paper looked at how the order could affect jobs in coal, oil and gas, and renewables.
Coal jobs: Trump has promised to restore the coal industry, but natural gas is cheaper, cleaner and more readily available.
Coal accounted for about half of American electricity a decade ago, falling to 29% in 2016, according to the Energy Information Administration. The number of US coal mine jobs was 65,971 in 2015, down from 91,611 in 2011.
Former President Obama's Clean Power Plan in 2015 curbed emissions at power plants, aiming to combat climate change. Trump wants to roll back the plan, which had slashed allowable carbon pollution, but "natural gas as a competitive threat to coal isn’t going away simply because we’re gonna lift regulations on coal," Stewart Glickman, energy analyst at market research firm CFRA Research, told USA Today in an interview.
Oil and gas jobs: The prospect of additional drilling on federal land could be a boon to oil and gas jobs, which have suffered over the last two years as the price of oil plummeted below $26 per barrel in early 2016. The US mining, quarrying, oil and gas extraction sector had an estimated 628,800 jobs in February, up from a 10-year low of 608,600 in October, but down from a high of 851,800 in September 2014.
But additional drilling remains a small factor in the short term. That's because oil producers want to avoid committing to new leases while crude prices remain low. Few analysts expect a major surge in prices in the next few years. Oil is trading around $50 per barrel.
Wind and Solar: Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, which have long been more expensive than fossil fuels, have gained considerable ground in recent years, according to a recent report by investment firm Lazard.
That makes solar panels, for example, a viable option for certain consumers. The average system costs $15,000 to $21,000 but often pays off in energy savings after five to 10 years, according to Consumer Reports.