During the 2016 presidential campaign, President-elect Donald Trump made it very clear where he stands on energy policy, repeatedly calling for more drilling for oil, more fracking for natural gas, and more mining for coal. He championed unfettered access to fossil fuels, and promised that his administration would drastically cut spending on renewable energy research.
But Trump voters feel differently. According to a new poll released by the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, 75 percent of Trump voters support taking action to accelerate the development and use of clean energy in the United States. And an overwhelming majority say that it’s very important that their candidate share their opinions on energy issues.
Among renewables, Trump voters are especially supportive of solar power, with 61 percent saying that they want to see more emphasis on solar when it comes to domestic energy policy. Fifty-six percent want to see more emphasis on hydropower, and 52 percent want to see more emphasis on wind — the same percentage that want to see more emphasis on natural gas.
Fewer are interested in seeing renewed emphasis on coal — just 38 percent — while 26 percent want to see less emphasis.
With the exception of natural gas — which Trump has promised to expand, through fewer regulations on fracking — Trump voters’ opinions on domestic energy policy seem completely at odds with their chosen candidate’s professed stance.
Trump has promised to open federal lands for oil and gas production, and rescind the federal moratorium on new coal leases from federal lands. He has promised to spend time and money revitalizing coal country, rolling back Obama administration regulations like the Clean Power Plan, which he has (incorrectly) blamed for the decline in coal production and jobs. Meanwhile, Trump has proposed ending federal spending on clean energy development, which could significantly slow the growth of renewable energy in the United States. Joe Romm wrote about this back in October, when he called a potential Trump presidency “a clean energy nightmare.”
“If a President Trump started favoring fossil fuels while dialing back clean energy efforts, it would slow the clean energy transition globally and undermine the ability of U.S. companies to complete globally,” Romm argued.
But Trump’s promises to slash renewable energy spending — while favoring the expansion of dirty fuels like coal — are at odds not only with his own voters, but voters across the country. A poll released in late September of this year found that conservative voters in Ohio — a state that Trump carried by eight points — not only favor renewable energy, but would tell their elected officials to support renewable energy policies. And a 2015 poll of voters nationwide found that 66 percent supported the expansion of wind, solar, and renewable energy development, and 72 percent strongly supported more pollution controls.
But if Trump’s Koch-and-fossil-fuel-friendly transition team is any indication, voters won’t be getting energy policies in line with their own views anytime soon.