One of the signature themes of President Donald Trump’s candidacy was to support the domestic oil and gas industry in a variety of ways, from promising to give the go-ahead to stalled pipelines to denying that human activities have caused climate change.
The CEOs we spoke with saw some positives and negatives in how President Trump is addressing energy, with plenty of room for growth.
His denial of climate-change rankled some who felt that it boxed the new administration unnecessarily into a corner of seemingly doctrinaire support of the hydrocarbon business.
Some suggested that he could agree with the “insurance policy” approach put forth in early February by way-back establishment Republicans George Shultz and James Baker in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, calling for a carbon tax and other measures that would comprise “a conservative answer to climate change.”
“I’m supportive of how they want to address climate-change problems in a market-oriented fashion,” said John Berger, CEO of Sunnova, which makes solar-energy equipment. Berger would also like to see President Trump get the federal government involved in helping electric utilities overhaul power plants and other aspects of the grid that are in disrepair.
But the executives were broadly in support of early Trump administration initiatives to clear the way for completion of the long-delayed Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil and gas pipelines in Flyover Country, reversing Obama administration stops on those projects.
And some supported the “America First Energy Plan” that Trump released shortly after Inauguration Day, which would fund a national infrastructure program from new taxes on oil and gas.
Restaurant Technologies CEO Jeff Kiesel favored a gasoline tax. Prices remain low, and “this would be a perfect user tax, which could fluctuate to keep gas at a fixed retail price,” he said. “We could adjust to higher fuel prices.”