Donald Trump gave a well-timed speech on Thursday, laying out his policies on energy. That day, for the first time in six months, oil hit $50 a barrel, and he was in North Dakota, which produces more oil than any other state but Texas.
The audience there welcomed his calls for greater production of fossil fuels, an end to the Environmental Protection Agency and the lifting of federal restrictions against drilling offshore and on public lands. His approach, he said, would produce such a windfall for the U.S. economy "that we will start to pay down our $19 trillion in debt, lower taxes and take care of our Social Security and Medicare," not to mention rebuild roads, bridges and airports.
But, if anything, Trump's approach would backfire. He would encourage so much production of fossil fuels that prices would plummet, not increase. By recalling regulations that force fossil fuel prices to recognize the cost of pollution, he would also subvert the free market and jeopardize advances that could help pave the way for future U.S. economic growth.