Trump pledges to scrap offshore wind projects on ‘day one’ of presidency

<span>Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Wildwood, New Jersey, over the weekend.</span><span>Photograph: Michael M Santiago/Getty Images</span>
Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Wildwood, New Jersey, over the weekend.Photograph: Michael M Santiago/Getty Images

Donald Trump has vowed to immediately halt offshore wind energy projects “on day one” of a new term as US president, in his most explicit threat yet to the industry and the latest in a series of promises to undo key aspects of the transition to cleaner energy.

Trump repeated false accusations about wind projects as being lethal to whales during a rally on Saturday in Wildwood, a resort city on New Jersey’s coast, promising to stamp out an industry that has been enthusiastically backed by Joe Biden.

“We are going to make sure that that ends on day one,” Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for November’s presidential election, said of the offshore wind farms. “I’m going to write it out in an executive order. It’s going to end on day one.”

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The twice-impeached former president, currently facing four separate criminal indictments, said aquatic wind turbines “cause tremendous problems with the fish and the whales”. He added that whales “come up all the time, dead”, comparing a beached whale carcass to Chris Christie, a former New Jersey governor and rare Republican critic of Trump.

“They destroy everything, they’re horrible, the most expensive energy there is,” Trump said of the wind turbines. “They ruin the environment, they kill the birds, they kill the whales.”

Trump, who has long complained that wind turbines ruin the view from his golf course in Scotland, has repeatedly railed against the US’s nascent offshore wind industry.

“I hate wind,” he reportedly told a recent fundraising dinner with oil industry executives in which he vowed to scrap various environmental rules, once elected, if he was provided with $1bn in campaign donations.

“If I were in the offshore wind industry, I would probably be pretty, pretty nervous,” a former Trump administration energy official told the Washington Post.

There is no evidence that the placement of wind turbines is causing whale deaths, experts have said, with other factors, such as fishing nets, boat strikes, pollution and the climate crisis all cited as far greater threats to marine mammals. But a spate of dead whales have washed up on US east coast beaches, including in New Jersey, providing ammunition to groups, some funded by the fossil fuel industry, that have called for a ban on offshore wind.

Last year, a Danish developer cancelled two major offshore wind projects in New Jersey, which would have provided clean power to 1 million people, due to economic concerns, in a major setback to an industry that Biden has helped foster in an attempt to cut planet-heating emissions from the power sector. Two other projects were recently approved by regulators to go ahead in the state, however.

“It’s incredibly concerning, shortsighted and misguided to see these sort of comments,” said Allison McLeod, senior policy director at New Jersey’s League of Conservation Voters and a former marine protected species observer. “The No 1 threat to our oceans is climate change, and New Jersey as a vested interest in pursuing clean energies to protect our coast and our economy.”

McLeod said that there has been a concerted misinformation campaign, funded by oil and gas interests, to mislead voters. “Big oil is benefiting from all of this fear mongering,” she said. “President Trump wasn’t speaking to average New Jerseyeans here. He was speaking to big oil.”

Trump’s invective against offshore wind has been accompanied by other attacks on Biden’s climate and environmental policies during his latest presidential campaign. Should he regain the White House, the former president and reality TV host is set to immediately target:

Electric cars

Trump’s animosity towards wind – and sharks – is only matched by his seemingly implacable dislike of electric vehicles, which he has falsely accused of not working in cold weather. He told his supporters on Saturday not to buy an electric car, despite his friendship with Tesla boss Elon Musk, because they are “ultra-expensive electric vehicles that don’t go far.”

“On day one I will immediately terminate Joe Biden’s insane electric vehicle mandate and there will be no ban on gas cars or gas trucks,” he told the crowd, to cheers. He added that he will put “a 200% tax on every car that comes in” to the US, although he didn’t specify which countries this tariff would apply to. “They are forcing them on you,” he said of the current administration.

Biden has not imposed a ban on gasoline-powered cars, instead pushing forward new rules to slash pollution emitted by vehicles that would nudge carmakers towards making non-emitting electric models. American drivers, meanwhile, have been offered tax credits of up to $7,500 per eligible electric car via Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.

Last year, more than one millions electric vehicles were sold in the US for the first time, although a far greater transformation in the US car market will be needed to meaningfully cut pollution from a sector that causes more carbon emissions than any other in the country.

Gas exports

In January, Biden’s administration announced a pause in new export licenses for liquified natural gas, following a boom in gas development along the Gulf of Mexico coast. Experts have warned the glut of gas shipments risk blowing apart climate goals.

This temporary pause will come to a swift end under Trump, the former president said in a Las Vegas rally shortly after the announcement. “I will approve the export terminals on my very first day back,” Trump said. “He doesn’t want plants built in the United States, even though that’s the best thing you could do,” Trump said of Biden’s decision.

The Paris climate agreement

In one of the most vivid illustrations of his stance towards the climate crisis, Trump removed the US from the Paris climate agreement during his first White House term.

Biden subsequently rejoined the pact when he became president, vowing that the US will take part in the global effort to take on the “existential threat” of the climate crisis, but a Trump return will likely undo this despite protestations from other countries and domestic climate campaigners.

“The Paris climate accord does nothing to actually improve the environment here in the United States or globally,” Mandy Gunasekara, Trump’s former EPA chief of staff, told the Guardian in February. She argued that the agreement puts too little pressure on China, India and other developing countries to reduce their emissions.