The Mark UP

Will Trump ignore U.S. business leaders on clean energy?

solar-panel-installerTo hear him tell it, the president-elect isn’t a politician – he’s a businessman and an expert negotiator. But his ideas on energy policy run counter to the advice of some of America’s biggest and most successful companies.

In a new report out this week, some of Trump’s billionaire peers have a message for him: Clean energy development is necessary for the economic vitality of the United States, and moving away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources has a tremendous upside for business and investors, not to mention being good for the health of our planet.

The report from the Risky Business Project, co-founded by mega-successful business leaders Michael R. Bloomberg, Henry M. Paulson, Jr., and Thomas F. Steyer, finds tremendous opportunity in a clean energy economy. “Shifting the U.S. to a low-carbon, clean energy system presents not just long-term benefits but also immediate, near-term opportunities, particularly for those actors best positioned to capitalize on these trends,” the report states.

In November some 360 companies signed a letter to Trump urging him to maintain America’s leadership in fighting climate change. “Failure to build a low-carbon economy puts American prosperity at risk. But the right action now will create jobs and boost US competitiveness,” the group of companies said, among them DuPont, eBay, Nike, Unilever, Levi Strauss & Co., General Mills, and Starbucks.

Unfortunately, so far Trump seems to be ignoring such voices and to be listening solely to the fossil fuel industry and its Washington lobbyists. He regular tweets outdated and incorrect information about renewable energy, despite data that show wind and solar power have become cost-competitive with polluting energy sources such as coal and oil.

Even more alarming, Trump has now tapped a key opponent of renewable energy for a position the lobbyist probably never dreamed he’d get his hands on – leading the presidential transition at the U.S. Department of Energy.

A wide range of businesses recognize the gains – both for themselves and the nation – if the U.S. continues to build a clean energy economy.  Will Donald Trump heed their advice, or does he just want to turn back the clock and lock us into the dirty fuels of the past? That could bankrupt our future.

Kevin Curtis is executive director of the NRDC Action Fund.