Trump’s Road to Jobs and Infrastructure is Clean (and Bipartisan)

World Positive
By Nancy Pfund
December 5, 2016

Clean energy has gar­nered bipar­ti­san sup­port across the coun­try. When we at DBL Part­ners first sat down to con­sider pol­icy options this sum­mer (with gov­ern­ment, aca­d­e­mic, and pri­vate indus­try experts at the Stan­fordPol­icy Forum), we believed that our rec­om­men­da­tions could build on these shared objec­tives of build­ing a thriv­ing 21st cen­tury clean energy indus­try in the US that simul­ta­ne­ously fueled eco­nomic growth and tack­led the threat of cli­mate change.

Unfor­tu­nately, our real­ity today looks quite dif­fer­ent. On the evening of Elec­tion Day, we joined pro­po­nents of clean energy across the US in a col­lec­tive state of shock. Dur­ing the cam­paign, now President-​​elect Trump had dis­missed global warm­ing as a Chi­nese hoax and promised to rad­i­cally change the direc­tion of fed­eral energy and envi­ron­men­tal pol­icy. It would obvi­ously be dis­ap­point­ing if the Trump admin­is­tra­tion were to fol­low through on this approach.

How­ever, there is no need to despair. The future of clean energy in the US remains bright and we con­tinue to believe that there is sub­stan­tial com­mon ground on which to make progress.

We find that many of our pol­icy pro­pos­als — designed to encour­age the growth of the clean indus­try energy — are in fact well-​​aligned with the objec­tives out­lined by the Trump campaign.

First, President-​​elect Trump has promised to be “the great­est jobs pres­i­dent.” If he is truly com­mit­ted to this goal, the clean energy indus­try is a vital com­po­nent for Amer­i­can job growth. The solar indus­try alone employs 140,000 more work­ers than the coal min­ing indus­try and is grow­ing rapidly. President-​​elect Trump has specif­i­cally promised to help the nation’s coal work­ers and we couldn’t agree more. For instance, we pro­posed The Clean Jobs Tran­si­tion Act to help new indus­tries revi­tal­ize coal com­mu­ni­ties. We believe many more jobs can be cre­ated by stim­u­lat­ing invest­ment in clean energy and tech­nol­ogy than by prop­ping up a fuel source that is no longer com­pet­i­tive in the mar­ket, regard­less of envi­ron­men­tal regulation.

Sec­ond, President-​​elect trump has promised to cut busi­ness reg­u­la­tions to help encour­age growth, an area of align­ment with more tra­di­tional Repub­li­can ortho­doxy. While we dis­agree with many of the cuts to envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions that Trump has threat­ened, there are ele­ments of the energy mar­kets that we think would ben­e­fit from a more open-​​market approach. One area of par­tic­u­lar impor­tance is data. Today the pub­lic, and there­fore entre­pre­neurs, do not have access to grid data that is crit­i­cal for improv­ing the effi­ciency of elec­tric­ity trans­mis­sion and dis­tri­b­u­tion. Pur­su­ing an open-​​market approach to under­ly­ing grid data — mak­ing it trans­par­ent and acces­si­ble to a wider group of indus­try stake­hold­ers — will help real­ize the promise of a mod­ern­ized grid and pro­vide a plat­form to cre­ate the Ubers, Ama­zons, or Googles of the energy industry.

Third, President-​​elect Trump has been a vocal sup­porter of increas­ing invest­ment in US infra­struc­ture, specif­i­cally call­ing out the need to repair and replace the country’s crum­bling pub­lic roads, bridges, rail­ways, and air­ports. How­ever, the infra­struc­ture of the 21st cen­tury is not just high­ways and bridges. It’s also wind farms and solar plants, energy stor­age facil­i­ties, and charg­ing net­works for elec­tric vehi­cles. Upgrad­ing the elec­tric grid will make our energy sys­tem more effi­cient, more afford­able, greener, and safer from ter­ror­ist attack. Invest­ing in build­ing the clean energy infra­struc­ture, along­side pro­posed trans­porta­tion upgrades, can help cre­ate mil­lions of Amer­i­can jobs across the country.

Finally, President-​​elect Trump has called for tax cuts across the board. We agree that the tax code can be a pow­er­ful tool for encour­ag­ing busi­ness growth, if and when it’s tar­geted at spe­cific desir­able eco­nomic activ­ity. With this ratio­nale in mind, we pro­posed The Car­bon­less Gains Tax. Sim­i­lar to the cap­i­tal gains tax, we believe there’s great value in rec­og­niz­ing green activ­ity and incen­tiviz­ing green deci­sions by giv­ing investors a small tax break.

To read the full arti­cle, visit World Pos­i­tive.