I keep hearing the same simple narrative about why a Trump president is good for the economy. It goes like this.

Trump will open up oil exploration by cutting regulations. He will let us to drill, frack, and dig where we please to get the economy going again. He will approve the Keystone pipeline, yada yada. Wrong answer.


The Most Obvious Wrong Answer - Drill Baby DrillIt harkens back to 2008 when Sarah Palin was on the campaign trail chanting “Drill baby drill!” But it neglects what’s happened over the last eight years.

In eight years we’ve built up a huge worldwide inventory of oil.  It’s a global glut! Oversupply hahas caused the price of oil to plunge. Oil is barely profitable to extract any more. We don’t need more oil –we can’t even use what we’ve got on hand. It sits waiting in tanks and tankers in harbors and portside all around the world.

What about natural gas? Fracking has been so successful at extracting abundant natural gas from the ground we now have an enormous oversupply.

Over the last eight years we’ve converted a substantial portion of our electricity production from coal-burning to gas-burning generators. We have so much natural gas on hand that it’s price has plunged and it is barely profitable to extract any more. And we have dramatically reduced the need to extract coal from the ground. With more natural gas generators coming on line, the supply of coal far exceeds the demand.


We are seeing the early signs of a permanent decline in the use of fossil fuels — coal, oil, and gas. Cleaner energy sources — solar and wind — are shouldering a growing portion of our global energy production. If we do end up building that Keystone pipeline to pump oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico? I’ll bet within 20 years it’ll be used for pumping water, not oil.

We are moving into a new energy era, and there’s no turning back.

“The U.S. can realize President-elect Donald Trump’s dream of independence from foreign oil ‘foes’ and ‘cartels’ — but he likely won’t live to see it unless he embraces the kinds of policies he’s campaigned against, according to a new study out Wednesday.”

It’s happened before. Remember whale oil? It was the dominant fuel used back in the dawn of the industrial age, to light oil lamps and make soap and margarine. Sperm whale hunting was a big industry up until the discovery of fossil fuel oil in Pennsylvania in 1859. That kicked off a boom in oil drilling that continued for nearly 150 years. There were still plenty of Sperm whales in the sea, but the whaling industry was superseded by the fossil fuel extraction industry.

There will still be plenty of oil and coal in the ground by the time we complete the transition to cleaner renewable energy. But the writing is on the wall: the fossil fuel industry is dying out. We are in a new era.

There may be some reason to believe a Trump president will help the economy. Extracting more fossil fuels from the ground is the wrong answer.

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