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US election 2016: A Platts news and analysis feature

Clinton, Trump surrogates debate offshore drilling, upstream tax policy

By Meghan Gordon

Published online 26 Oct 2016

US election 2016: A Platts news and analysis feature

Clinton, Trump surrogates debate offshore drilling, upstream tax policy

By Meghan Gordon

Published online 26 Oct 2016

Hillary Clinton would ban oil and gas production off the Arctic and Atlantic coasts, while Donald Trump would let the market decide where to drill, energy policy advisers to the US presidential candidates said Tuesday in a debate in Virginia.

Trevor Houser, Clinton's energy adviser and a partner at the Rhodium Group, said the Democratic candidate does not think oil production in the Arctic or along the US East Coast is "worth the risk, given that we're awash in onshore domestic oil supply right now."

"We're laying down rigs in the Bakken and everywhere else ... it's not worth threatening the $14 billion outdoor economy here in Virginia, much of which relies on coastal tourism," Houser said.

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Clinton would also seek to increase royalty taxes for onshore oil and gas production, Houser said, comparing the federal royalty of 12.5% to North Dakota's 18.75% and Texas' 25% rates.

"Even on the oil and gas acreage that is currently producing, [federal] taxpayers aren't getting their fair share, and that's something that needs to change," Houser said.

US Representative Kevin Cramer, Republican-North Dakota, said Trump would make more oil and gas resources available for production and defer to industry on the location.

"The market will decide, a company will decide what's the most expensive or inexpensive, what's the most efficient, where's the most effective place to drill and mine," Cramer said.

Cramer said advanced drilling techniques like those deployed in his home state by Bakken producers have allowed the industry to produce more while having a smaller environmental footprint.

The debate hosted by the University of Richmond School of Law delved into energy and environmental issues like climate change that were absent from the candidates' three debates.

Asked to defend an earlier statement by Trump that what the Environmental Protection Agency does "is a disgrace," Cramer said the Republican candidate wants to reform, not dismantle, the agency. He said EPA needs to return to its core mission of protecting clean water and clean air, and that Congress has granted it too much authority to enact legislation.

Houser said Republicans' claims of over-regulation cratering the economy have never come to pass.

Both surrogates declined to share their candidates' thoughts on the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, with Cramer acknowledging of Trump: "I'm not sure he's aware of it, frankly."

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