President-elect Donald Trump voiced his misgivings about increased reliance on wind power to generate electricity during a Nov. 22 interview with The New York Times.
The Times posted a transcript of the on-the-record interview online. The interview over lunch was conducted between the president-elect and the NYT publisher along with some key editors and reporters at the newspaper.
During the session, Trump acknowledged there is a place for wind power in the domestic energy portfolio, but added that he dislikes wind subsidies.
Generally, Trump voiced skepticism about issues ranging from the amount of wind components that are actually manufactured in the United States to wind towers’ impact on eagle populations.
In late-2015, Trump lost a legal battle in the United Kingdom after trying to block deployment of wind turbines near a golf course that the Trump organization is developing in Scotland. The legal skirmish over the wind towers generated media attention through the BBC, the CBS 60 Minutes program and various other outlets.
During the interview, Trump was also asked if he intended to have the United States pull out of the Paris Climate Change agreement. “I’m going to take a look at it,” Trump said.
“I have a problem with wind,” Trump said at one point during the session. “I mean, the wind is a very deceiving thing,” Trump went on to say.
“First of all, we don’t make the windmills in the United States. They’re made in Germany and Japan. They’re made out of massive amounts of steel, which goes into the atmosphere, whether it’s in our country or not, it goes into the atmosphere,” Trump said.
“The windmills kill birds and the windmills need massive subsidies. In other words, we’re subsidizing wind mills all over this country,” Trump said.
“I mean, for the most part they don’t work. I don’t think they work at all without subsidy, and that bothers me, and they kill all the birds. You go to a windmill, you know in California they have the, what is it? The golden eagle? And they’re like, if you shoot a golden eagle, they go to jail for five years and yet they kill them by, they actually have to get permits that they’re only allowed to kill 30 or something in one year,” Trump said.
“The windmills are devastating to the bird population, O.K. With that being said, there’s a place for them. But they do need subsidy. So, if I talk negatively. I’ve been saying the same thing for years about you know, the wind industry. I wouldn’t want to subsidize it,” Trump said.
“Some environmentalists agree with me very much because of all of the things I just said, including the birds, and some don’t. But it’s hard to explain. I don’t care about anything having to do with anything having to do with anything other than the country,” Trump said.
(The latter comment might have related to reporter questions about the Scotland wind turbines and its relationship with his golf business interest. Trump has said he will concentrate on being president of the United States and will have his adult children run his businesses).
On the manufacturing front, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who has written a book about climate change, said: “Just so you know General Electric has a big wind turbine factory in South Carolina.”
“Well that’s good,” Trump replied. “But most of ‘em are made in Germany, most of ‘em are made, you know, Siemens and the Chinese are making most of them,” Trump said.
“They may assemble — if you check, I think you’ll find that the, it’s delivered there and they do most of the assembly,” Trump said.
Given the president-elect’s skeptical view, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and other wind supporters have been busy publishing data about the employment benefits of wind power and wind component manufacturing in the United States.
Some analysts doubt that Trump poses much of a threat to wind industry growth given the renewable portfolio standards (RPS) found on the state level.