Letter: Trump’s energy policy threat to the valley

Donald Trump presented his energy-policy proposals to an audience in North Dakota last week. Sara Palin offered the perfect description for these policies eight years ago when she told a cheering audience, “Drill baby, drill.” Trump’s policy could lead to the drilling of Thompson Divide and dust pollution across the valley.

Coral Davenport, writing in The New York Times (“A challenge to Donald Trump’s energy claims: Economic reality,” May 27), properly ridiculed the policy. Citing a number of experts, Davenport explained that the policy of making the U.S. energy-independent by drilling more and more wells is nonsensical. She also cited several experts who claimed that global economic forces could prevent implementation, specifically noting that if Saudi Arabia decided to “keep the spigot cranked, the bar for profitable for American production gets higher, investment falls and the sector (oil exploration) contracts regardless of Mr. Trump’s intentions.”

The conclusion that the policy is nonsensical is correct. Sadly, the suggestion that market forces can stop Trump is not.

Section 232(b) of the Trade Act gives the president the authority to limit the imports of goods deemed to threaten national security. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter have all used the act to limit oil imports in one way or another. Federal courts have upheld the actions. In 1975, I participated in the preparation of one finding. In 1979, I led the preparation of a second. The power is unilateral. Congress has no oversight.

I would expect President Trump’s secretary of commerce, possibly the oil driller Harold Ham, to begin an investigation Jan. 21. By June 2017, a President Trump will have imposed a quota or fee on oil imports. A $30-per-barrel fee would allow U.S. producers to receive $70 a barrel if world prices are $40 a barrel, $90 a barrel if world prices are $60 a barrel. The math is proven.

The high prices would incent drilling again. North Dakota, Texas and Oklahoma would boom, as would Colorado. By 2020, Thompson Divide would look like a pin cushion and the roads though the valley will have been destroyed, just like the rural roads in North Dakota. Man camps would proliferate. Wages would be pushed higher and higher and our lifestyle changed forever.

Did anyone say Trump is a threat to the valley?

Philip Verleger