Trump: Government should 'get out of the way' of energy industry

Trump: I want to be energy independent
Trump: I want to be energy independent
Trump: I'd love to debate Bernie
Trump: I'd love to debate Bernie
Trump holds news conference after clinching nomination
Trump holds news conference after clinching nomination

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump outlined his energy policy plans Thursday, taking jabs at President Barack Obama and pledging to revive what he called a stifled U.S. energy industry.

In a speech in Bismarck, North Dakota, the bombastic businessman delivered a more detailed view of his possible energy platform than he has yet on the campaign trail. He called on the government to "get out of the way" of the energy industry, criticizing regulations of the oil and coal industry in prepared remarks and in comments to reporters.

"We've got to get rid of some of these regulations," he told reporters in the state, which has been battered by low energy prices. "It's gotten out of control."

Donald Trump
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

Trump's plans outlined at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference would mark a stark divergence from the Obama administration. Trump said that, if elected, he would rescind Obama's "job-destroying" executive actions, "save" the coal industry, revive the Keystone XL pipeline project and cancel the Paris climate accords.

"America's incredible energy potential remains untapped," he said, claiming Obama has, and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton would, keep America dependent on foreign energy sources.

In his speech, Trump argued for the economic benefits of increased energy production, saying it would create jobs and free money to invest in infrastructure. He contended his election would prevent Americans from "sharing in the poverty promised by Hillary Clinton."

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Trump clinches GOP nomination: NBC News

Trump had previously been mostly mute on details of his energy policy, but had been skeptical of climate change and the Paris agreement. Environmental advocates and Clinton have criticized his stance for underplaying the economic and social risks of climate change.

Clinton, among other proposals, has said she wants to reduce U.S. dependence on coal and limit hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Those actions would follow the Obama administration's policies, which include regulating emissions from coal-fired power plants and increasing renewable energy use.

Most scientists acknowledge the role of fossil fuel use in climate change.

Coal's importance as an energy source has diminished amid cheap natural gas prices and slowing demand abroad. In his comments to reporters Thursday, Trump contended that regulations have contributed to the industry's struggles as well as market forces.

"All I can do is free up coal," Trump said. "Market forces are something I don't want to get involved with."

David Sandalow, a former U.S. undersecretary of energy, told CNBC's "Power Lunch" on Thursday that simultaneously saving the coal industry and boosting natural gas production could be difficult.

"[Trump] said he's going to put coal workers back to work but hasn't told us how. And at the same time, he said he's going to increase hydraulic fracturing, which is the main reason that prices have gone down for natural gas and that's what put coal miners out of work," said Sandalow, who is now the inaugural fellow at the Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy.

Trump's positions are further complicated by a recent Politico report that shows his organization cited global warming as justification to build a coastal structure to prevent erosion at a golf course in Ireland.

— Reuters contributed to this report.