Trump would gut Biden’s landmark IRA climate law if elected

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Donald Trump is planning to gut US President Joe Biden’s landmark climate law, increase investment in fossil fuels and roll back regulations aimed at accelerating the transition to electric vehicles if he is elected next year.

Senior campaign officials and advisers to the former president said he would seek to radically overhaul US climate and energy policy to “maximise fossil fuel production” during a second term.

They added that the Inflation Reduction Act — the centrepiece of Biden’s economic strategy, with $369bn in tax breaks and subsidies for clean energy — would be in Trump’s crosshairs.

“Some of the price tags involved with some of these credits seem to be wildly understated,” a senior Trump campaign official told the Financial Times. “We’d be looking to cut a lot of that spending.”

Republican officials in a second Trump administration would come armed with a mandate to overhaul or abolish government agencies, purge officials, cut spending on clean energy programmes and repeal restrictions on the fossil fuels industry, people familiar with the plans said.

Trump has made no secret of his opposition to the IRA, which he has described as the “biggest tax hike in history”, or his antipathy towards green energy. He has railed against his successor’s climate policies, which he has blamed for raising the price of gasoline and compromising what he claimed was his achievement of securing US “energy independence”.

In a recent campaign video, Trump said US energy was “weak, substandard and unaffordable” because it relied on wind generation. “Windmills rust, they rot, they kill the birds,” the former president said.

Interviews with Trump campaign officials and current and former advisers highlight the stark contrast facing US voters next year on climate and energy policies. Biden has promised to rejuvenate industrial heartlands and slash emissions by subsidising green energy, while Trump has vowed to halt that agenda and remove curbs on fossil fuel production.

“On the first day of a second Trump administration, the president has committed to rolling back every single one of Joe Biden’s job-killing, industry-killing regulations,” said Carla Sands, a Trump adviser and vice-chair of the Center for Energy and Environment at the America First Policy Institute, a conservative think-tank.

She said Trump would work with congressional leaders to curtail what she called the “socialist, big government IRA”, scrap fuel-economy standards for cars and “end the war on American energy” that she linked to higher energy and gas prices.

This would include reopening federal land that has been restricted to oil and gas drilling, added Sands.

David Banks, a former Trump adviser who worked on the administration’s “vision for energy dominance”, said the former president was likely to withdraw from the Paris climate accord again, as he did in 2017. Biden rejoined the agreement on his first day in office.

“In a Trump administration that is almost guaranteed,” Banks said, describing the former president as “a climate sceptic”. “For Trump, it’s more of an economic concern and competitiveness concern.”

US President Joe Biden has fallen behind his predecessor Donald Trump in some nationwide polls © Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

With opinion polls showing Trump far ahead of his rivals for the Republican nomination — and recently overtaking Biden in some nationwide polls — conservatives are focusing on developing a coherent suite of policies that could be rolled out rapidly after the election.

Think-tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and America First Policy Institute have drawn up policy blueprints and assembled teams of former officials in the hopes of avoiding a repeat of the chaotic start of Trump’s presidency, which resulted in long delays in appointing essential personnel to implement policy changes.

“You need to have very knowledgeable folks who are ready to go from the get-go,” said Rick Perry, the former Texas governor who served as energy secretary under Trump from 2017 to 2019. “I’m talking about people that will knock on the door of agencies the day after the election and basically start the process, which did not happen in 2016.”

Project 2025, a 920-page conservative policy blueprint by the Heritage Foundation, calls for the elimination of several energy department agencies central to Biden’s climate agenda, including the Loan Programs Office, which is disbursing $400bn to help industries decarbonise, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the Clean Energy Corps.

Trump’s proposed overhaul of climate and energy policy has alarmed Democrats and environmental campaigners.

“Another Trump term would threaten our democracy, slam the brakes on the climate progress we’re making at home and strengthen the hand of climate deniers around the world,” said Kevin Curtis, executive director of the NRDC Action Fund, an environmental advocacy group.

Repealing the IRA would require an act of Congress. The law has won widespread support from industry, with green energy developers hailing it as a transformative effort that will spur investment in new cleantech and renewable energy industries across the US.

Critics, including EU politicians, have argued that its subsidies amount to protectionism and raise energy costs, disrupt global supply chains and exacerbate inflation.

Most project investments under the IRA have been committed to Republican districts in the country.

Dan Brouillette, who succeeded Perry as energy secretary, said Trump could prove more moderate than some activists fear, adding that any incoming Republican president would probably recognise that “good” parts of the IRA should be maintained.

“There are incentives in the IRA to continue the development of nuclear power . . . I would suggest those policies are wholly in line with the Trump policies and I would see them to continue,” he said.

Ammar Moussa, a spokesperson for Biden’s re-election campaign, said US oil production had “hit a record high”, beating levels under Trump.

“If Maga [Make America Great Again] Republicans actually cared about the United States’ energy independence, they would support President Biden’s agenda,” said Moussa.

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