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Trump says he hates wind power at fundraiser with oil executives

Trump says he hates wind power at fundraiser with oil executives


Former President Donald Trump repeatedly denounced wind energy during a fundraising dinner with oil and gas industry executives last week, saying the renewable energy source is not reliable, unattractive and bad for the environment.

I hate the wind, Trump told leaders over a steak dinner at his Mar-a-Lago Club and Resort in Florida, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private conversation.

Trump's comments reveal how he is courting potential donors with his long-standing hostility toward wind farms and pledging to end this form of renewable energy if he returns to office. His position poses a potential threat to one of the pillars of America's transition to clean energy, according to more than a dozen Trump allies, energy experts and offshore wind industry officials.

Even if President Biden were re-elected, experts say, opponents of offshore wind will remain emboldened by Trump's stance and well-positioned to challenge a new generation of projects in federal waters.

What if Trump returned to the White House?

If I was in the offshore wind industry, I would probably be quite, quite nervous, said a former Trump administration energy official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly.

The Trump campaign did not respond to specific questions for this story, nor did it elaborate on his energy policy, which he has often summarized as a drill, a baby, a drill. In an emailed statement, Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt said the former president would restore American dominance in energy.

Energy analysts say they expect a second Trump administration to slow the pace of offshore wind lease sales and environmental assessments. These measures could hurt the industry just as it needs to accelerate to meet Biden's goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035 and to help New England reduce its deep reliance on electricity. gas and oil imports.

Project reviews and auction schedules could slow significantly, potentially to a de facto pause, analysts at ClearView Energy Partners wrote in a recent note to clients. Bottom line: Regulatory uncertainty related to the upcoming election could keep project developers on the sidelines.

A Trump Interior Department would also prioritize offshore oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico over offshore wind auctions, said William Perry Pendley, who served as acting director of the Interior Department. Interior Bureau of Land Management under Trump.

The priority should be oil and gas, Pendley said, adding: “I don't think there's any reason to emphasize wind power.

Trump told leaders at fundraising dinner that he would open the Gulf of Mexico to drilling, a person familiar with the meeting said, lift Biden's pause on new liquefied natural gas exports, speed up permitting drilling, would roll back regulations to deploy electric vehicles, and do what it could to help the oil and gas industry. He listened to each leader for about four or five minutes.

Pointing to the window overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, one attendee said, the former president claimed that offshore wind turbines fail when exposed to salt water, although such projects are designed to withstand to salt water corrosion.

Toward the end of the meeting, Trump told the executives they should contribute to his campaign. The head of his main super PAC was in the room because he was trailing Biden financially. His policies would be much better for the oil and gas industry than Biden's, and he would do much of what they wanted on day one, he said.

In addition to political uncertainty, offshore wind developers face significant economic challenges. Interest rates and supply chain bottlenecks have contributed to the abandonment of some projects, including two in New Jersey late last year.

Democrats are doing their best to lock down commercial-scale offshore wind projects before Trump has the chance to stop them. The Biden administration has already approved eight, one of which is operational. Democratic governors in the Northeast have also reinforced their commitment to deploying more offshore wind power, regardless of the balance of power in Washington.

If Biden wins a second term, he would be able to accelerate offshore wind along the Gulf and west coasts, and increase capacity in the Atlantic. Once these steel turbines are anchored to the ocean floor, it would be difficult to scuttle them, one reason why the stakes are now so high.

Trump's crusade against wind energy dates back to 2006, when he purchased an 1,800-acre estate in Scotland, near a proposed wind farm, which he said would be monstrous and downright ugly.

The Trump Organization sought to build a golf course there and sued to block the wind project, saying the turbines would spoil golfers' views. In December 2015, less than a year before the US election, judges on Britain's highest court unanimously rejected this claim.

But the battle raged. At the White House, Trump has frequently attacked clean energy, suggesting without evidence that it causes cancer.

If you have a windmill near you, congratulations, your home value just lost 75%, Trump said in a 2020 speech. And the noise is said to cause cancer. And of course, it's like a cemetery for birds.

There are no known cases of wind farms causing cancer. Although turbines can kill birds, research suggests that domestic cats are responsible for many more bird deaths in the United States each year and that painting turbine blades black can help reduce the number of deaths.

Yet, taking a cue from Trump's anti-wind rhetoric, Interior delayed approval of America's first large offshore wind farm in 2019. Then-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt extended the review of Vineyard Wind, a wind farm project near Marthas Vineyard, Massachusetts.

The decision pushed back the timeline for the project, which was due to begin operating in 2021. It also cast a pall of uncertainty over the entire offshore wind sector, as other developers worried about potential interference from administration in their own projects.

Bernhardt, who now chairs the Center for American Freedom at the America First Policy Institute, a pro-Trump think tank, did not respond to requests for comment. Bernhardt has spoken with energy executives and others in recent weeks about the policies of Trump's second term, according to a person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they do not was not authorized to comment publicly.

Today, the forces opposing offshore wind have multiplied and become more powerful. Fossil fuel interests have worked with right-wing think tanks and community groups to block projects along the East Coast, according to a recent report from Brown University's Climate and Development Lab.

Several of these groups have repeated Trump's false claims that wind turbines kill whales and drive marine mammals crazy. Many now feel emboldened by the former president's rhetoric.

It's a boost for our movement, said Robin Shaffer, president of Protect Our Coast New Jersey, which describes itself as a grassroots group made up of residents, homeowners, business owners, fishermen and visitors.

Trump rightly considers offshore wind a waste, said H. Sterling Burnett, director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy at the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank that has called climate change a hoax and sued to stop an offshore wind project off the coast of Virginia.

From the start, Protect Our Coast received support from the Delaware-based Caesar Rodney Institute, a think tank backed by fossil fuel interests such as American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and the American Energy Alliance. The Heartland Institute received funding from oil giant ExxonMobil until 2008.

Regardless of the election, Biden administration and Northeast officials are moving forward with ambitious goals for offshore wind energy. And they make the union a key Democratic group, at the heart of this initiative.

Interior this month approved the nation's eighth major offshore wind project, south of Marthas Vineyard. Overall, the Biden administration has approved more than 10 gigawatts of clean energy from offshore wind projects, enough to power nearly 4 million homes.

In New England, which relies on natural gas to power nearly 43% of its electricity generation, Vineyard Wind now provides electricity to about 30,000 homes, despite lagging under Trump. Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey (D-), who has set a goal of 100% clean electricity by 2030, praised developers for agreeing to hire hundreds of union workers.

In a brand new industry like offshore wind, we're seeing the beginnings of workers coming together and organizing collectively, said Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO, the nation's largest federation of labor unions. These are all things that would be at risk if there was a second Trump administration. So we think it couldn't be more disastrous.

Still, Rebecca Tepper, secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said Trump's false claims about wind energy won't stop the state's progress.

The former president's claims, like many of his statements, have been verified repeatedly, Tepper said. We were busy working with the developers and moving forward.




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