Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is accustomed to making sweeping, all-encompassing general statements across a wide array of subjects.
However, the candidate seldom substantiates the statements with specifics. And when Trump recently appeared before an oil industry group in North Dakota, his remarks were the closest thing yet resembling an official energy policy.
Like other stump speeches before it, his remarks were decidedly Trump-esque. For example, Trump said this on the cost of wind energy: “Wind is very expensive; I mean, wind is, without subsidy, wind doesn’t work.”
The sentiment is unchanged from earlier statements. During a November 2015 campaign stop in Newton, Iowa, the home of blade supplier TPI Composites, Trump said, “It needs subsidy; otherwise, they’re not going to get built.”
During his North Dakota stop, Trump continued his view on incentives: “You need massive subsidies for wind … The government should not pick winners and losers.”
Trump wasn’t done there, however. He followed up with his stance on eagles: “… There are places maybe for wind. But if you go to various places in California, wind is killing all of the eagles.”
Although the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is encouraged that wind energy is being considered by Trump as part of an all-of-the-above energy stance, the group quickly fact-checked the presumptive Republican presidential nominee comments via its Into the Wind blog.
Peter Kelley, AWEA spokesperson, writes the following: “Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels in wind-rich areas like Iowa and Texas, a statement Politifact checked and rated ‘True.’ It’s increasingly cost-competitive, not counting any incentives. The overall cost of wind-generated electricity has fallen 66 percent since 2009.”
Kelley goes on to write that “all forms of energy have incentives, most of them permanent in the tax code. The only ones preparing to phase out their incentives are wind and the other renewable industries. The wind production tax credit is set to phase out, starting next year.”
AWEA’s best retort, however, came in response to this Trump claim:
“Wind turbines kill far more than a million birds a year, far more … so wind is, you know, it’s a problem.”
Kelley wrote, “Mr. Trump’s numbers are off by orders of magnitude. Wind power has among the lowest impacts on wildlife of any way to make electricity. Leading wildlife groups like the Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation and the World Wildlife Fund support responsibility sited wind turbines.”
Trying to be inclusive, Trump concluded with, “Despite that, I am into all types of energy. And by the way, while we’re in North Dakota, I have to say that I love the farmers.”
And Kelley cleverly responded, “We encourage Mr. Trump to love the wind farmers, too. In most cases, they’re the same people: Ninety-eight percent of wind turbines are erected on private land, leased from farmers and ranchers.”