Trump can undo some of Biden’s energy policies, but with limits and consequences, analysts say

The president has a lot of leeway to make many unilateral decisions on energy policy with far-reaching impacts on the industry, as Biden has demonstrated, but the flip-flopping between administrations creates regulatory uncertainty for the industry.

Published: June 16, 2024 10:57pm

Biden campaigned on a promise to “end fossil fuel,” and during his tenure, his administration, with the help of Democrats, have taken at least 200 actions that have made it harder to produce oil and gas, according to the Institute for Energy Research (IER), a free-market energy think tank

“The sheer volume of regulations that this administration has pushed out to curtail and restrict our ability to produce affordable and reliable energy, by that fact alone, will make President Trump's reelection consequential in the energy space. Because there's so much that needs to be undone,” Tom Pyle, president of IER, told Just the News

Trump leads in many national and state polls, and Biden’s approval rating hit an all-time low this week. Nothing is for certain, but Trump could retake the White House in November. 

Trump has vowed to reverse the direction of the country’s energy policy and pursue the “energy independence” strategy of his first administration. While he will likely take many actions to the benefit of the oil and gas industry, which could bring down energy costs as well as many other economic benefits, Trump will have four years before there’s possibly another change in administration. 

The president has a lot of leeway to make many unilateral decisions with far-reaching impacts on the energy industry, as Biden has demonstrated.  

Oil and gas projects sometimes take several years or more than a decade of planning, and the regulatory uncertainty makes it difficult to make long-term investments and decisions. In his first week as president, Biden canceled the Keystone XL pipeline as one of his very first acts as president, issued a moratorium on all oil and natural gas leasing activities in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and revoked a number of Trump’s executive orders. Trump could reverse these decisions just as quickly.

Energy analyst David Blackmon told Just the News that in his discussions with the CEOs of oil and gas companies, there’s a lot of worry about the regulatory uncertainty that arises from the see-saw effect of abrupt shifts in energy policy when administrations change, as they often do. 

“A lot of investment capital that would normally have gone into producing more oil and gas in the U.S. is fleeing overseas, where there’s a more predictable regulatory environment. Frankly, even in some developing nations, the regulatory legal environment is now stable,” Blackmon said. 

Stop the madness

Another Trump administration, Pyle said, would mean a saner energy policy with a “do no harm” approach. “I think the first immediate benefit to President Trump being elected would be just to stop the madness,” Pyle said. 

Throughout his campaign, Trump has said he’d make a number of changes in the energy space if elected.In an interview with Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” earlier this month, Trump said he would cut the Interior Department and also take aim at “environmental agencies.” 

Michael McKenna, who was a White House energy advisor under Trump, told the New York Times that Trump’s approach to climate change would likely be one of “indifference.” This would, McKenna said, put the Biden administration’s climate regulations in the crosshairs. 

Trump may also repeal the EPA’s power plant rule, which requires deployment of expensive carbon capture technologies on all coal plants and new gas plants. As a result, most coal generation will be retired and investments in new gas plants are less likely. 

Trump is promising to “fully modernize the electric grid to prepare it for the next 100 years, and implement rapid approvals for energy projects.”  This would mean approving the construction of “hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of brand-new beautiful power plants that actually work.”

In a meeting with House Republicans Thursday, Trump said, if he’s elected, he will completely reverse Biden’s “crazy” EV mandates, according to He also said he would restart oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, according to Bloomberg News, reversing Biden's ban on oil and gas leases in the region.

Trump has also called Biden’s signature Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) “the biggest tax hike in history,” and a Trump campaign official told the Financial Times that Trump would be looking to cut some of the $369 billion in tax breaks and subsidies for wind, solar and batteries found in the IRA. 

“It's my hope that President Trump takes a heavy hand with respect to all of the subsidies for corporations in the IRA for their preferred energy sources — subsidies for batteries, your subsidies for offshore wind, solar, etc,” Pyle said.

Steve Milloy, a senior legal fellow with the Energy and Environmental Legal Institute and publisher of, told Just the News that there could be some limitations to what Trump can do or will be willing to do. A lot of red states have benefited from the incentives for battery manufacturing, as well as tax credits for wind and solar. Trump would get push back from within his own party if he went after those. 

Likewise, oil companies benefit from subsidies for carbon capture and other climate programs, and they would likely lobby to keep those in place. 

Downward decline

While Trump’s options in some cases may be limited, another four years of Biden, by comparison, would mean expanding the climate policies that he put forth in his first four years. Milloy said this won’t be cheap.  

”I’d rather have Trump subsidies than Biden subsidies,” he said. 

Among the actions Biden might take in a second term is to declare a climate emergency. It’s a move he resisted during his first term, but according to E&E News, some within his administration support the idea. It would, according to Bloomberg, allow Biden to halt or limit crude oil exports, suspend offshore drilling, and throttle the transport of oil and gas.  

“If there is a second Biden term, we can fully expect U.S. production to fall into a downward decline,” Blackmon said. 

Other actions Biden would likely pursue, according to E&E News is building out thousands of miles of transmission lines, scaling up energy storage, getting IRA funding rolling out rapidly, and greater decarbonization efforts. He may also cave to pressure from climate activists to make the pause on liquefied natural gas export permits into a permanent ban, as many of his supporters want done. 

“The prospect of a second Biden term is very troubling for those who support the ability of Americans to produce their own resources here at home,” Pyle said. 

Milloy said that while Trump can’t undo a lot of the harm of Biden’s first term, he can, if elected, do a lot to fix the future of energy . 

”The most important thing is to fix the government,” Milloy said. 

While a second term for Biden would give his administration more room for an expansive climate agenda, that could be limited by how much voters will go along with it. 

Pyle said that the left has overplayed its hand with the perpetual “fear mongering” about climate change, and policies to control more and more of our choices — from the type of stoves we use to the cars we drive — has soured many to the whole issue. 

Polls are showing less support for the “climate crisis” narrative, especially among young voters, as well as more skepticism for government intervention to address it. Polls also show that inflation and the state of the economy are far more important to voters. 

Should Biden’s policies increase the cost of energy, it could have repercussions for the Democratic party in future elections.  

Whipsaw effect

Whatever benefits Trump’s policies may bring to the energy space, many of the actions he takes could very well be reversed if the White House flips back to the Democrats in 2029. 

The regulatory uncertainty could give oil and gas producers some pause when it comes to long-term investments, which would limit how much they would be willing to do under a second Trump administration.

”The same can be said for practically every issue,” Pyle pointed out. Ideally, he said, it would be better for energy and many industries if fewer policies were set by Congress rather than by executive fiat. 

“If Congress reasserts itself in this great government of ours, I think you would see a return to that stability, and you wouldn't have this extreme whipsaw effect that we've seen when we've changed administrations over the years from Bush to Obama, from Obama to Trump, and from Trump to Biden — and potentially another Trump administration. The pendulum swings so far and wide,” Pyle said. 

Milloy said that it will be important for Trump to pick a solid running mate, an “heir apparent,” who will maintain similar policies as a second term for Trump. 

‘That's why Trump's vice president pick is really important. It's got to be someone that is going to be a viable candidate in 2028,” Milloy said. 

Analysts agree that America’s energy policy through 2028 will be largely determined by the outcome of the November election. With energy being an input in everything consumers buy — from the food they eat to the houses in which they live — whatever voters ultimately decide could have far-reaching impacts for all aspects of American life.

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