Local energy economist breaks down candidate positions

Where do the candidates stand on an issue so important to Houston's industry?

HOUSTON - Illinois coal worker Ken Bone is a viral sensation days after asking an energy-related question during the last presidential debate.

But it got us thinking about where the candidates stand on an issue so important to Houston’s economy. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have made contradictory statements on energy and one local expert doesn’t expect any detailed policy until after one of them takes office.

“We won’t know what the candidates energy policies are until one of them is sworn in,” said energy economist and UH professor Ed Hirs. He’s done research that both candidates have seen.

“Our policy papers have reached the Trump camp, they’ve reached the Clinton camp,” said Hirs. He believes both candidates have said whatever is politically expedient while on the trail.

“The EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, is killing these energy companies,” said Donald Trump during Sunday’s debate.

“We’ve got to remain energy independent because it gives us more power and freedom,” said Hillary Clinton during the debate.

“Trump has taken a very naïve view of the energy industry and, in fact, both candidates are pandering to their bases,” said Hirs.

We combined some of what’s been said with what’s been reported in business and trade publications. Here’s what we found:

- Donald Trump wants to ramp up fossil fuel production like coal.

- Hillary Clinton wants to expand clean energy technology

- Trump wants to lift so-called restrictions on oil and gas companies

- Clinton wants to cut oil and gas subsidies

-Trump supports the Keystone pipeline

- Clinton opposes the Keystone pipeline

Hirs says both candidates have mentioned clean coal expansion. However, he says its future is murky given increased natural gas production.

“Neither one has developed a policy that’s actually going to be implemented,” said Hirs. He predicts energy won’t be at the top of the agenda for either administration.

“Historically speaking, most of the folks in power, democrats or republicans, have generally been hands off,” said Hirs.


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