Donald Trump Taps Climate Change Skeptic As Key Energy Adviser

Trump's pick is also one of America's most ardent drilling advocates.
Lucas Jackson / Reuters

WASHINGTON, May 13 (Reuters) - Republican presidential contender Donald Trump has asked one of America's most ardent drilling advocates and climate change skeptics to help him draft his energy policy.

U.S. Republican Congressman Kevin Cramer of North Dakota - a major oil drilling state - is writing a white paper on energy policy for the New York billionaire, Cramer and sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Cramer was also among a group of Trump advisers who recently met with lawmakers from western energy states, who hope Trump will open more federal land for drilling, a lawmaker who took part in the meeting said.

Cramer said in an interview his paper would emphasize the dangers of foreign ownership of U.S. energy assets, burdensome taxes, and over-regulation. Trump will have an opportunity to float some of the ideas at an energy summit in Bismarck, North Dakota on May 26, Cramer said.

A spokeswoman for Trump's campaign did not comment.

While the ultimate size and makeup of Trump's energy advisory team is unclear, Cramer's inclusion suggests the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's oil policy could emphasize more drilling, less regulation and taxes, and curbs on efforts to combat climate change.

Cramer has said he believes the Earth is cooling, not warming, and he has opposed efforts by the Obama administration to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

Trump has been light on details of his energy policy so far, though he recently told supporters in West Virginia that the coal industry would thrive if he were in the White House. He has also claimed global warming is a concept "created by and for the Chinese" to hurt U.S. business.

Trump only recently started building up teams of advisors on the economy, foreign policy and other issues to flesh out his platform for the Nov. 8 presidential election.

Cramer, North Dakota's only congressman and an early Congressional Trump supporter, encountered Trump when they were guests on a radio show last month and Trump spoke about relaxing regulation and expanding drilling. Trump's political team later asked Cramer to write the energy policy paper, the lawmaker said.

"The real opportunity for prosperity in this country has been to produce more because you have access to more markets," Cramer said, referring to the recent lifting of a decades-old ban on oil exports. "The last thing we need is more rules."

On foreign ownership of U.S. oil assets, Cramer said: "One-third of refining capacity is owned by OPEC countries. How does this fit into his (Trump's) America first policy?"

OPEC members Saudi Arabia and Venezuela both have large stakes in U.S. refining capacity.

Cramer said he expected energy policy to be a vulnerability for Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, in an election year where energy companies are going broke.

Clinton has advocated shifting the country to 50 percent clean energy by 2030, promised heavy regulation of fracking, and said her prospective administration would put coal companies "out of business." (Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Ross Colvin)

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