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Trump says he ‘hates’ wind power at fundraiser with oil executives

Former president Donald Trump repeatedly ranted about wind power during a fundraising dinner with oil and gas industry executives last week, falsely claiming that the renewable-energy source is unreliable, unattractive and bad for the environment.

“I hate wind,” Trump told the executives over a meal of chopped steak at his Mar-a-Lago Club and resort in Florida, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private conversation.

Trump’s comments reveal how he is wooing potential donors with his long-standing hostility to wind farms and pledges to halt this form of renewable energy if he returns to office. His stance poses a potential threat to one of the linchpins of America’s clean energy transition, according to more than a dozen Trump allies, energy experts and offshore wind industry officials.

Even if President Biden were to win reelection, experts say, opponents of offshore wind will remain emboldened by Trump’s stance and well positioned to challenge a new generation of projects in federal waters.

And if Trump were to return to the White House?

“If I were in the offshore wind industry, I would probably be pretty, pretty nervous,” said a former Trump administration energy official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly.

The Trump campaign did not respond to specific questions for this story, and it has not elaborated on his energy policies, which he has often summarized as “drill, baby, drill.” In an emailed statement, Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt said the former president would “make America energy dominant again.”

Energy analysts say they expect a second Trump administration would slow the pace of offshore wind lease sales and environmental reviews. These steps could undercut the industry at the very moment when it needs to accelerate to meet Biden’s goal of 100 percent clean electricity by 2035, and to help New England reduce its deep dependence on imported gas and oil.

“Project reviews and auction schedules could slow substantially, potentially to the point of a de facto pause,” analysts with ClearView Energy Partners wrote in a recent note to clients. “In short: the regulatory uncertainty from the upcoming election could keep project developers on the sidelines.”

A Trump Interior Department would also prioritize offshore oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico over offshore wind auctions, said William Perry Pendley, who served as acting director of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management under Trump.

“The priority has to be oil and gas,” Pendley said, adding, “I don’t think there’s a reason to press forward on wind.”

Trump told executives at the fundraising dinner he would open up the Gulf of Mexico to drilling, a person with knowledge of the meeting said, lift Biden’s pause on new liquefied natural gas exports, speed up drilling permits, reverse regulations aimed at deploying electric vehicles and do what he could to help the oil and gas industry. He listened to each executive for about four or five minutes.

Pointing out the window to the Atlantic Ocean at one point, one attendee said, the former president claimed that offshore wind turbines break down when they are exposed to saltwater — though these projects are designed to resist saltwater corrosion.

Near the end of the meeting, Trump told executives that they should contribute to his campaign — the leader of his main super PAC was in the room — because he was trailing Biden financially. His policies would be much better for the oil and gas industry than those of Biden, and he’d do much of what they wanted “on Day 1,” he said.

In addition to political uncertainty, offshore wind developers face significant economic challenges. Rising interest rates and supply-chain bottlenecks have contributed to the demise of some projects, including two in New Jersey late last year.

Democrats are doing their best to lock in commercial-scale offshore wind projects before Trump has a chance to halt them. The Biden administration has already approved eight, including one that is up and running. Democratic governors in the Northeast have also reinforced their commitments to deploying more offshore wind energy, regardless of the balance of power in Washington.

If Biden were to win a second term, he would be in a position to accelerate offshore wind along the Gulf and West coasts, and add more capacity to the Atlantic. Once those steel turbines were anchored to the ocean floor, they would be hard to scuttle — once reason the stakes now are so high.

Trump’s crusade against wind power dates back to 2006, when he bought an 1,800-acre estate in Scotland near a planned wind farm that he warned would…

Read More: Trump says he ‘hates’ wind power at fundraiser with oil executives

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