Comparing the presidential candidates’ energy platforms

October 27, 2020 By    

After a whirlwind of a year, November is finally in sight. Nov. 3 is Election Day, and the ball is in the voters’ court.

When exercising your right to vote in the presidential election, it’s important to understand how each candidate’s energy platform affects the propane industry. Tyler Lawrence, manager of legislative affairs at the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA), provides insight into both President Donald Trump’s and former Vice President Joe Biden’s platforms – and where propane fits into it all.

President Trump

President Donald Trump headshot


Consistent with his 2016 election run, Trump has vowed to be friendly to business during a second term.

Trump also favored the oil and gas sector throughout his first term, cutting back on regulations or making them more business-friendly, Lawrence says.

Trump rescinded the Obama-era Clean Power Plan and proposed the Affordable Clean Energy Rule in its place. In addition, under Trump, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rescinded former President Barack Obama’s methane emissions rule that would cost American energy developers an estimated $530 million annually, according to Trump’s official website.

Lawrence believes a Trump second term would likely be more advantageous than disadvantageous to the propane industry due to the president’s commitment to strengthen the oil and gas industries.

“I think a second Trump presidency would look very similar to the first, and that would certainly play [out] well for us,” he says.

Lawrence does note, however, that abundant deregulation can cause a pendulum effect when a new president comes in – even if that is in another four years.

“If you continue to see deregulation, there’s certainly a risk of – whenever there is a new president – that pendulum swinging back,” he adds. “And we see almost a rebalancing of the lack of regulation, or at least a reduction in regulation that we’ve been seeing over the past four years.”

Former Vice President Biden

Former Vice President Joe Biden headshot


Clean energy is the name of the game for Biden if he is elected.

The Democratic candidate plans to put big dollars behind opportunities to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Biden pledges to invest $400 billion in clean energy and innovative solutions, according to his official website. He has also sworn to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement on his first day in office.

A notable cause of concern for the propane industry in the event of a Biden presidency is his push for electrification. To combat the push for electrifying the country, NPGA would adjust its messaging to promote propane as a solution to Biden’s overall goal to drastically lower emissions.

“Addressing the misnomers around electrification and making sure that the full fuel cycle is taken into account will definitely help the industry there,” Lawrence explains.

Still, Lawrence sees a legitimate opportunity for propane to be part of Biden’s plans for the country because it is a clean-burning fuel.

In addition, Biden aims to cultivate more U.S. jobs, says Lawrence.

“I think his moderate approach is certainly an opportunity there,” Lawrence says. “And I think as long as propane shows its environmental benefits, as well as all it does for domestic jobs, we’ll be in a pretty good position.”


Tyler Lawrence headshot


Regardless of who wins the presidential election, NPGA sees a lot of opportunity to make serious headway with propane in Congress.

“As we’ve seen in the 116th Congress, whether or not someone’s a Republican or Democrat matters a little bit less as to whether they’re pro-business,” Lawrence says.

The Blue Dog Coalition is a group of moderate House Democrats who often come from traditionally Republican districts. Lawrence says NPGA has worked well with that group of candidates and will continue to do so.

Lawrence also notes that propane-friendly legislation has received support across both parties, citing a recent case where a Democrat received bipartisan support for adding propane to a $350 million annual grant program for the installation of refueling infrastructure.

“Propane autogas is certainly cleaner than both diesel and gasoline, and we’ve seen both Republican and Democratic transportation proposals acknowledge that,” he says. “So I think if the propane industry continues to tell its story and highlight its emissions-cutting performance, whether it’s home energy [or] transportation, we definitely have a role to play in getting to lower emissions in the long term.”


Election Day polling place

Energy will be one of many issues in play on Election Day. Photo: YinYang/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Trump and Biden may seem unlikely to agree on much, but Lawrence says there is one notable similarity between the two: the vow to push the U.S. to global leadership in the energy sector.

“Essentially, ‘They want America to be a global leader’ really applies to both of them,” Lawrence says. “[They] get at it in different ways. Obviously, Trump wants to see a lot of energy production. Biden wants the U.S. to be a leading developer of zero- and low-emissions technologies. But again, both of them really want to have America be a leader in the energy sector.”

Propane can secure its place in both of the candidates’ energy strategies, and NPGA is well-positioned to navigate either outcome.

If Trump gets a second term, NPGA will continue what it has done the past four years. Meanwhile, propane fits well into Biden’s goals for a cleaner future while bringing more U.S. jobs, and NPGA will convey that message to legislators if he is elected.

“Regardless of the 2020 election, we’re optimistic for the chances to continue to advance the propane industry’s priorities in [Washington], D.C.,” Lawrence says. “Our approach might have to change a little bit, but we definitely see a lot of opportunities under both scenarios.

“A lot can happen in between now and November,” he adds. “So I think it’s important for the industry to continue to engage with candidates and legislators and make sure that we get on their radar before the election, and then continue that engagement once the 117th Congress starts.”

About the Author:

Carly Bemer (McFadden) was the managing editor at LP Gas magazine.

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