US Election: The Presidential Candidates on Energy Issues

You’re a busy energy manager – goodness knows you haven’t got any time to follow the maddening circus that is the US Presidential Election, never mind sort through the raging dumpster fire to understand each candidate’s stance on energy issues. (RIP Ken Bone – we barely knew ye.)

So, with less than one week remaining until Election Day, we did it for you!

No matter where in the world you are managing energy, the outcome of this historic event will likely affect energy policy and markets globally – especially where renewables are concerned. That’s partly because when it comes to energy issues, the candidates and their respective parties couldn’t be more opposed. While Donald Trump is pushing hard for fossil fuels, Clinton is advocating for clean power, on which her energy platform is almost entirely based.

Before we take a look at each candidate’s views and energy proposals, let’s examine the official platform of their respective parties.

Where Democrats and Republicans stand on energy

The official Democratic and Republican party lines are laid out in each of their “platforms”, which is the American equivalent of a manifesto.

Not unlike the nominees themselves, the Democrat and Republican parties have laid out radically divergent proposals for the future of energy in the United States, including America’s participation in international climate change negotiations.

Here is a quick overview of how energy and climate issues are framed in each platform:

democrats energy policy


republicans on energy


  • Calls for 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050
  • Supports a Department of Justice inquiry into the role that oil companies played in misleading the public on climate change
  • End fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks
  • Calls for the expansion of public support for renewable energy and mass transit
  • Oppose Arctic and Atlantic Ocean drilling, supports “phase down” of fossil fuel development on public lands
  • Envisions an America running entirely on clean energy by 2050, with interim goal of 50% clean electricity within 10 years
  • Make American manufacturing more competitive by investing in industrial energy efficiency
  • Supports the tribal nations in developing clean energy jobs
  • Commits to installing half a billion solar panels in 4 years
  • Pledges to cut energy waste in American homes, schools, hospitals and offices through energy efficient improvements and grid modernisation
  • Tax code must reflect the above commitments by eliminating tax subsidies for fossil fuel companies and extending tax incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy
  • Calls for increased fossil fuel development, including coal as a “clean, affordable” energy resource
  • Would do away with the Clean Power Plan altogether
  • Supports opening of public lands and outer continental shelf for exploration and eventual production
  • Calling for federal deregulation of fracking, methane emissions, and horizontal drilling
  • Calling for full energy trade liberalization, boosting oil & gas exports
  • No action on climate change
  • Rejects the Paris climate change agreement
  • Rejects any carbon price or tax
  • Pledges to defund renewable energy programs
  • Downplays climate change as a national security threat (contrary to Pentagon statement)
  • Finish Keystone XL pipeline
  • Proposes to expedite siting and production processes on public lands
  • Supports expanding the national grid
  • Supports the cost-effective development of renewables by private capital

In their own words: the US presidential candidates on energy issues

We have compiled and summarised the most recent, illustrative quotes from each candidate on energy policy below.

hillary clinton candidates on energy issuesHILLARY CLINTON

Energy AdvisorTrevor Houser (former RHG energy analyst)

donald trump candidates on energy issuesDONALD TRUMP

Energy Advisor: Kevin Cramer (North Dakota Congressman)

The transition to renewable fuels is important – we must do it as quickly as we can

“We are, however, producing a lot of natural gas, which serves as a bridge to more renewable fuels. And I think that’s an important transition. I support moving toward more clean, renewable energy as quickly as we can, because I think we can be the 21st century clean energy superpower and create millions of new jobs and businesses.”

Source: Second 2016 Presidential Debate, October 10, 2016

There’s this thing called clean coal that will last for 1,000 years because technology

“There is a thing called clean coal. Coal will last for 1,000 years in this country. Now we have natural gas and so many other things because of technology. We have unbelievable — we have found over the last seven years, we have found tremendous wealth right under our feet. So good. Especially when you have $20 trillion in debt.”

Source: Second 2016 Presidential Debate, October 10, 2016

Let’s deploy 500 million solar panels and have enough clean energy to power every home in America

“Take clean energy. … Here’s what we can do. We can deploy a half a billion more solar panels. We can have enough clean energy to power every home. We can build a new modern electric grid. That’s a lot of jobs; 
that’s a lot of new economic activity.”

Source: First 2016 Presidential Debate, Sep 26, 2016

America invested in solar and it was a disaster

“We invested in a solar company, our country.

That was a disaster. They lost plenty of money on that one.”

Source: First 2016 Presidential Debate, Sep 26, 2016

Someone will be the clean energy superpower of the 21st century and it should be America

“Some country is going to be the clean energy superpower of the 21st century and create millions of jobs and businesses. It’s probably going to be either China, Germany or America. I want it to be us. We invent the technology, we should make it and use it and export it, which will help to grow our economy.”

Source: Economic Policy Speech, CSPAN, Aug 11, 2016

American energy policies in general are a disaster

“I’m a great believer in all forms of energy, but we’re putting a lot of people out of work.

Our energy policies are a disaster. Our country is losing so much in terms of energy, in terms of paying off our debt.”

Source: First 2016 Presidential Debate, Sep 26, 2016

I will invest in clean energy jobs during my first 100 days

“In my first 100 days, we will work with both parties to pass the biggest investment in new, good-paying jobs since World War II.

Jobs in manufacturing, clean energy, technology and innovation, small business, and infrastructure.”

Source: Democratic nomination acceptance speech, July 2016

America is sitting on $50 trillion in fossil fuels that will solve all its economic woes

“It’s all upside: more jobs, more revenues, more wealth, higher wages and lower energy prices. I am going to lift the restrictions on American energy and allow this wealth to pour into our communities. This will:

  • increase GDP by more than $100 billion annually
  • add over 500,000 new jobs annually
  • increase annual wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years
  • increase federal, state, and local tax revenues by almost $6 trillion over 4 decades
  • increase total economic activity by more than $20 trillion over the next 40 years.”

Source: Remarks at the Shale Insight Event, Sep 22, 2016

Anthropogenic climate change is real but we can fight it and create jobs at the same time

“I believe in science.

I believe that climate change is real and that we can save our planet while creating millions of good-paying clean energy jobs.”

Source: Democratic nomination acceptance speech, July 2016

Climate change is not caused by carbon emissions. Also green energy is a big expensive mistake.

“There has been a big push to develop alternative forms of energy–so-called green energy–from renewable sources. That’s a big mistake. To begin with, the whole push for renewable energy is being driven by the wrong motivation, the mistaken belief that global climate change is being caused by carbon emissions. If you don’t buy that–and I don’t–then what we have is really just an expensive way of making the tree-huggers feel good about themselves.”

Source: Crippled America, p. 65, Nov 3, 2015

We need to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy and end big oil subsidies

“We should talk about the extraordinary threats that climate change pose to our country and our world. And that’s why for the last many years, both in the Senate and as secretary of State, it’s been a big part of my commitment to see what could be done.

But there has never been any doubt that when I was a senator, I tried — I joined with others to try to get rid of the subsidies for big oil. And I have proposed that again, because that’s what I think needs to be done as we transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.”

Source: The Brooklyn Democratic presidential debate, April 14, 2016

America has oil for 285 years, enough to overtake Saudi Arabia and become the world’s largest producer

“Among all the gifts that God gave to America was an abundant supply of natural energy. According to the Department of Energy, the natural gas reserves we have in the ground could supply our energy needs for centuries.

Researchers at Rice University in Houston, Texas, have estimated we might have two trillion barrels of recoverable oil, enough to last the next 285 years. Technology has changed so much in the last few years that a Goldman-Sachs study has estimated that by 2017 or 2019, we could overtake both Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s largest oil producer.”

Source: Crippled America, p. 65 , Nov 3, 2016

For more a more detailed look at the candidates on energy issues, check Hillary Clinton’s plan for climate policy and energy on her campaign website. Donald Trump’s “America First” energy vision can be found in its entirety here.

While you might feel powerless to change the outcome of the US Election, there are plenty of things you can do right now to manage energy better at your workplace. Have a look at our free guide:

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