Trump announces efforts to revive nuclear energy, export more American coal

President Donald Trump on Thursday announced a number of energy initiatives, including a review of U.S. nuclear energy policy and efforts to make sure new coal plants are built overseas.

The announcements came during a speech on achieving American "energy dominance."

The position is similar to previous administrations' goals of achieving "energy independence," dating back to the 1970s. President Barack Obama paved the way for Trump by lifting a 40-year ban on exporting U.S. crude oil and by approving about two dozen liquefied natural gas export licenses.

On Thursday, Trump said his administration will attempt to expand the nuclear energy sector by launching a "complete review" of current policy to identify ways to revive the industry.

Nuclear reactors currently generate about 20 percent of the country's power, but that share is expected to decline to 11 percent by 2050 as some of the nation's aging nuclear power plants retire.

The viability of new large-scale nuclear plants has come into question. Industry leader Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy in March as delays and cost overruns piled up at new nuclear plants in Georgia and South Carolina. Energy Secretary Rick Perry told CNBC the administration is focusing to some degree on new, lower-cost nuclear technologies.

The Treasury Department will attempt to "address barriers" to financing high-efficiency coal plants overseas, Trump said. The administration hopes to increase U.S. coal exports by encouraging the construction of coal plants abroad, he said.

The prospect for new coal plants in many parts of the world is murky because prices for cleaner-burning natural gas are cheap and most countries are aiming to reduce carbon emissions in order to mitigate global warming.

Trump announced this month he will pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement. Many top Trump officials deny the scientific consensus that carbon emissions from human activity are driving global warming. The president, who has called climate change a hoax, refuses to say whether he now believes in it.

Trump also said the Interior Department would move forward with a new five-year leasing program for offshore drilling, which will replace Obama's plan. The move was widely anticipated, as Trump instructed Interior to create a new plan in April.

The president also touted the approval of a new petroleum pipeline to Mexico and licenses to export liquefied natural gas from a proposed export terminal in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Watch: Trump touts coal mining jobs


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