Energy policy in the 2018 State of the Union

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump delivered the 2018 edition of the State of the Union speech on January 30, 2018. Unlike many previous such addresses, this one barely covered energy policy, focusing instead on a variety of other matters. But the speech offers insight into the Trump administration's view of the national situation, as well as into its priorities.

Energy policy and resources have often featured prominently in previous State of the Union addresses, and in remarks in 2017 President Trump advocated for a national strategy of "energy dominance." By contrast, President Trump's 2018 State of the Union speech mentioned U.S. regulation, production, and trade in energy only briefly, emphasizing his deregulatory agenda and pro-export philosophy.

The Trump administration posted an online version of his 2018 remarks as prepared for delivery. In that version, only two sentences use the word "energy":
We have ended the war on American Energy — and we have ended the war on clean coal.  We are now an exporter of energy to the world.
A transcript released by the U.K. media source The Independent suggests President Trump stuck close to his script on this (and other points):
We have ended the war on American energy, and we have ended the war on beautiful clean coal. We are now very proudly an exporter of energy to the world. 
These statements appear to relate to announcements made over the last year. Back in March 2017, President Trump signed an executive order which he described as "putting an end to the war on coal. We’re going to have clean coal — really clean coal." The U.S. does export a significant amount of energy -- and last year the Energy Information Administration projected that the U.S. would likely become a net exporter of energy within several years "as petroleum liquid imports fall and natural gas exports rise." Subsequent developments over the last year have lent preliminary support to this prediction.

President Trump's 2018 State of the Union speech did not otherwise directly address energy policy. That said, he did emphasize policy goals and achievements with respect to economic factors, such as tax cuts, job creation in manufacturing and other sectors, and improved small business confidence, as well as matters like national defense and immigration.

It can be tempting to infer administrative priorities from what is or isn't covered in a speech like this. At the same time, any leader has limited time to cover a host of important topics. With respect to energy matters, the speech emphasizes the Trump administration's focus on reducing regulations and increasing exports of America-produced energy resources.

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