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Platform Check: How Trump's Energy Plan Stacks Up To The Democrats


The presidential race is a story of stump speeches, debates, polls and accusations. It's also a story about policy.


BERNIE SANDERS: We have got to end corporate ownership of prisons and detention centers.


DONALD TRUMP: We're going to build that wall. It's going to be a real wall. And we're going to have people come into our country, but they're going to come in our country legally.


HILLARY CLINTON: Some county is going to be the 21st century clean-energy superpower. It's either going to be China, Germany or us. It needs to be us.

CORNISH: And this is platform check, where we examine what the candidates will do if they become president. The presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump, gave a big speech on energy yesterday, and he promised to make the U.S. energy independent and repeal many of President Barack Obama's initiatives.


TRUMP: We're going to rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions, including the Climate Action Plan and the waters of the United States rule.

CORNISH: Here to explain how that stacks up against what Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders might do is Amy Myers Jaffe. She's an executive director of energy and sustainability at the University of California, Davis. Welcome to the program.

AMY JAFFE: Thank you for having me.

CORNISH: We just heard Donald Trump there talking about rescinding Obama administration executive actions. He's also talked about trying to achieve energy independence altogether. Amy Myers Jaffe, is that possible?

JAFFE: I mean, we're much closer to being able to do energy independence than we ever have been in our history, but Donald Trump is only talking one-sided, which is to, you know, pave the way for higher oil and gas production. And part of getting energy independence, of course, is to continue the path on limiting demand, and he was sort of silent on that. So I guess the jury would be out on that.

CORNISH: He also talked about rescinding those executive actions. Is that possible?

JAFFE: Well, you know, with the Clean Power Plan, which is regulating greenhouse gases in each state in the United State, many states have already moved ahead, taking steps to limit their greenhouse gases. And Donald Trump is not empowered, even if he's president of the United States, to rule that those states cannot have those policies.

CORNISH: Contrast that with Hillary Clinton. Would she be an extension of the Obama White House, or has she put forth something different?

JAFFE: I think Clinton is looking to actually strengthen some of the policies of Obama, especially in trying to expand and align policies in Canada and Mexico through a North American accord on climate. She's stated very boldly that she'd like to have our pipeline and rail and transport systems for energy upgraded and improved, having proper maintenance and so forth. And that's a very important issue. She has not really specified how we would pay for that, so that, I think, is a bit of a challenge.

CORNISH: So help us understand, how does all this compare with what Bernie Sanders has to say about energy?

JAFFE: Well, Sanders has a more strident policy than the other two candidates. He believes we should ban fracking across the United States. That's already happened in his state, Vermont. It would be a very big change in the United States because we have many states - not just Texas, Louisiana and the traditional states, but also Pennsylvania, Ohio - where a lot of jobs have been created through the shale industry. And it would make a material impact on our ability to have fuel for our cars.

CORNISH: I want to talk more about coal because we've seen that become a campaign issue, especially in a few Appalachian states. We heard Hillary Clinton soften her stance on the industry when she was in West Virginia a few weeks ago. Can you give us some bullet points on how coal plays into each of these candidates' platforms?

JAFFE: Well, Hillary has tried to emphasize finding jobs for communities that were coal-dependent. Donald Trump has said he's putting the miners back to work. I think Donald Trump has a more difficult task because the coal industry itself though maybe it would lower its cost through automation, so self-driving trucks, sending robots down into the mines instead of people. So I think, either way, with either candidate, the coal industry is going to find that it's not employing as many people. And because certain states will already stop using coal because of their own state initiates on energy, I don't think Donald Trump can bring back those coal jobs.

CORNISH: That's Amy Myers Jaffe. She's executive director of energy and sustainability at the University of California, Davis. Thank you for explaining it to us.

JAFFE: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.