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Trump adviser: Undoing regulations will be 'heartbeat' of GOP energy talk in Cleveland

PresumedGOP presidential nominee Donald Trump is expected to take his message on energyto the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, likely repeating to cut federal regulationin a bid to achieve total U.S. energy independence.

S&PGlobal Market Intelligence spoke with a key Trump energy adviser, U.S. Rep.Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.,ahead of the GOP convention. Cramer helped Trump craft his first major energypolicy speech, which contained pledges to undo many Obama administration rules and policies,including the Clean Water Rule and the U.S. commitment to the Paris climateaccord.

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Trump energy adviser and
U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.
Source: U.S. House of Representatives

Trumpalso advocated for total U.S. energy independence, particularly with regard tooil imports from OPEC member countries.

Cramer,who said he is in contact "pretty regularly" with Trump and hiscampaign, expects the White House hopeful to touch on energy at the convention,which will take place July 18-21. Cramer and other Trump supporters will alsospeak as "surrogates" for the likely GOP nominee at various events inCleveland, with energy one of the topics.

"Therollback of regulations is really the heartbeat … of restoring our energysecurity, or building on our energy security and the renaissance that we'reenjoying in this country, at least in the oil and gas industry," Cramersaid. He noted that energy plays an important role in two of the Trumpcampaign's key themes: national security and job creation.

Crameralso defended Trump's stance on the environment, which has drawn criticism fromDemocrats and environmental groups unhappy with the celebrity businessman'sdismissal of climatechange, an issue Trump once referred to as a "hoax."

"DonaldTrump talks more about the environment and, as he calls it, legitimateenvironmental concerns and especially pollution and federal lands … than a lotof western Republicans," Cramer said. "He's clearly got a heart forconservation and energy efficiency, and protection of the land and naturalresources."

OnJuly 11, the drafting committee for the GOP's policy platform approved ameasure calling for the transfer of certain federal lands to state control. ButTrump has been more hesitant on selling public lands, which can contain federalenergy leases, to state and private entities. He has instead a "shared governancestructure" with states.

Trumpalso broke away from mainstream Republican thought in opposing the proposedTrans-Pacific Partnership. Although Cramer has not spoken with Trump aboutspecific trade deals, the adviser said "there's nothing … in [Trump's]trade positions that preclude us from exporting anything," including coal,oil or natural gas. Rather, Trump wants to negotiate "better deals"and focus more on bilateral arrangements with other countries, Cramer said.

Butmost of Trump's other energy policies have adhered closely to those of theRepublican Party. At his May energy speech in Bismarck, N.D., Trump said hewanted to rescindthe Obama administration's Climate Action Plan, which in part directed the U.S.EPA to form its first greenhouse gas standards for existing power plants, knownas the Clean Power Plan. GOP lawmakers in Congress have repeatedly introducedmeasures to undo the Clean Power Plan, none of which have gained presidentialapproval.

Trumphas also promised to rebuild the battered coal industry by revoking regulationsand restoring lostminer jobs. Competition from attractively priced and abundant natural gas maybe undercutting coal demand, but Cramer's view — which he has shared with Trump — is that themarket should decide winners and losers rather than the government.

"An all-the-above, diverseenergy policy that doesn't preclude anything but finds ways to level theplaying field for all technologies … that's what I've always advocatedfor," Cramer said. But the lawmaker admitted he is "notsuper familiar" with plans to restore lost energy jobs. Many utilities arepressing ahead with coal plant retirements and installing more gas-fired andrenewable capacity despite legal challenges to the Clean Power Plan and otherenvironmental rules.

Trump'sDemocratic rival in the presidential race, Hillary Clinton, has said if electedshe will support the Clean Power Plan, seek to renewable energy to a third ofU.S. electricity generation by 2027, and provide $30 billion in economic assistance to strugglingcoal communities.

Keystone and Mexico

Crameralso discussed two other Trump campaign pledges: aiding 's Keystone XL crudepipeline project and compelling Mexico to pay to build a wall along theU.S.-Mexico border.

Ifelected, Trump said he will ask TransCanada to renew its Keystone permitapplication — rejected by the Obama administration in November 2015 —as long as the U.S. receives part of the "profits" from the pipeline.

Industrygroups including the American Petroleum Institute how Trump would form such anarrangement on Keystone, but Cramer offered some options for how the U.S. couldbenefit more from the project. He said TransCanada could set aside some of thepipeline's capacity for Bakken crude or other U.S. production and the U.S.could negotiate favorable property tax terms for communities located along thepipeline route.

Onthe topic of the U.S. and Mexico's energy relationship, Cramer said he has nottalked specifically with Trump about how his border policies could affecttrade, but "there's nothing in the wall [proposal] that precludes us fromdoing trade with Mexico." Although the border wall is a"hallmark" of Trump's campaign, Cramer said the presumptive GOPnominee is always striving for a "position for negotiation." Mexico'sgas demand for the power and industrial sectors is steadily, with the U.S. providinga substantial amount of supply.