Updated at 3:58 p.m. ET
Predictability is a necessity for the key industries that fit into America’s energy puzzle, especially electric utilities, oil and gas producers, and automobile manufacturers. All of these businesses make huge capital investments with very long lifespans. Utilities build power plants that provide electricity for decades. Oil companies drill wells that take years to complete. Auto companies plan car models five or more years in advance. None of these industries turn on a dime.
That’s why President Trump’s efforts to systematically reverse Barack Obama’s energy and environmental policies represent such a gamble for them. Before Trump took office, technological advances, consumer preferences, cost trends, and government policies at the state, federal, and international level were all jointly pushing toward a lower-carbon future that stressed greater efficiency and cleaner power sources.
Now Trump, working through Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, has steered federal policy in direct opposition to those other forces—a redirection capped by his decision Thursday to withdraw from the global Paris Agreement, in which virtually every nation agreed to reduce carbon emissions. While the other key private- and public-sector dynamics are still driving toward a cleaner energy future, Trump is seeking to resist that transition and restore the primacy of fossil fuels.