Donald Trump and his top energy adviser, oil baron Harold Hamm, will appear in the hard-hit battleground state of Pennsylvania this week to rally the oil and gas industry in the heart of Marcellus Shale country.
The Republican presidential nominee is scheduled to speak at an industry conference in Pittsburgh on Thursday before almost 2,000 attendees, where insiders say he’s likely to delve deeper into a strategy that has been heavy on oil and gas while steering clear of renewable energy and climate change.
"He will get more specific about his energy policy there," said Trump economic adviser and Texas energy guru Kathleen Hartnett White, who has yet to meet the famed billionaire TV personality. "You don’t have to do too much, other than restrain government — I’m serious."
Trump is also slated to talk about hydraulic fracturing, an issue that prompted clarification from Hamm last month after the presidential candidate said he would support local bans on hydraulic fracturing. Hamm later told The Wall Street Journal that Trump didn’t fully understand the question and supports the industry.
"Donald Trump is pro-business. He is pro-energy and he is not going to shut down fracking or drilling or anything else," Hamm told the newspaper. "He is for this industry 100 percent."
Noticeably absent from the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s Shale Insight conference in Pittsburgh this week will be Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who was invited to attend but is not teed up to speak. Her campaign was not immediately available for comment. The Ohio Oil and Gas Association and the West Virginia Oil and Natural Gas Association are co-hosting the conference.
The Trump family has been hitting the swing state of Pennsylvania hard in recent weeks. At the opening of Trump’s campaign headquarters last week near Canonsburg, Pa., south of Pittsburgh, Donald Trump Jr. told a crowd of 500 that his father is going to bring jobs back to the area by pushing energy development, according to a local television station.
Trump will likely take the opportunity in Pittsburgh to touch on the need to authorize infrastructure like the long-discussed Keystone XL pipeline and infrastructure at ports, White said, but will steer clear of any chatter on grants, low-interest loans or subsidies.
"It is quite self-contained, a competitive industry; it’s not the big, global majors, Shell, Exxon, etc. The shale revolution originates from many small and medium-sized energy companies that have just figured out how to refine existing technologies," she said.
Trump’s pro-infrastructure message could resonate in the Marcellus region, which has been experiencing an oil and gas production slowdown, a drop in the number of rigs being drilled and waves of layoffs.
David Spigelmyer, the head of the Pittsburgh-based Marcellus Shale Coalition, touted the region’s pivotal role in energy, job creation — and White House elections.
"Our states will also play a critical role in determining the presidential outcome, as they have in years past," Spigelmyer said in a statement. "For these reasons, we’re very excited to hear from Donald Trump at this week’s conference, and to put our industry and its shared economic, environmental and national security-related successes on a national stage."
Trump has come under fire for providing few details on his energy views and even shifting his positions by scrubbing content on his website (Greenwire, Sept. 16).
While Trump’s major energy policy speech, delivered in May in North Dakota, may be "more general than you’d like to see," White said it recognizes a steady increase of energy regulations in the United States since the 1970s that have severely restricted energy production on federal lands (E&E Daily, May 27).
White, director of the Center for Energy & Environment at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, co-authored the book "Fueling Freedom" with former Wall Street Journal columnist Stephen Moore, who has also been urging Trump to push energy and jobs on the campaign trail and believes that message was heard (E&E Daily, Sept. 7).