Davies explores energy policy under Trump administration in speaking tour

University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Professor Lincoln Davies recently traveled to Australia to deliver a series of speeches in different cities on energy policy under President Donald Trump.

Davies traveled to Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide, Canberra, and Sydney at the invitation of the Australian Institute of Energy. 

During the speaking tour, Davies, who is an expert in U.S. energy law, provided an overview of the current state of energy policy and law as well as potential changes under the Trump administration. Davies, who holds the Hugh B. Brown Presidential Endowed Chair in Law and serves as associate dean for academic affairs at the law school, joined the U faculty in 2007. His research spans a broad array of energy topics, including renewables and alternative energy, carbon capture and sequestration, nuclear power, utility law, and regulatory and technology innovation. He is a leading authority on state renewable portfolio standards (“RPS”) and assured water supply laws (“wet growth”). His additional research interests include environmental law, water law, land use, administrative law, and procedure.

Davies spoke to the S.J. Quinney College of Law about his time abroad in the following Q&A.

Q: How did this opportunity arise?

A: The Australian Institute of Energy invited me to give a series of lectures in five cities to describe how U.S. energy policy is evolving under the Trump administration.  The institute is a leading national organization in Australia focused on energy issues and includes members from every part of the sector, including fossil fuels and renewables, and engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, economists, lawyers, and policymakers.  Because U.S. energy production and use is so important globally, there is intense international interest in how our policies will change under the new administration.  While in Canberra, I also gave a seminar at the Australian National University, at the invitation of professor James Prest, on emerging changes in U.S. rooftop solar energy policies.

Q: What were some of the main points you shared about the Trump administration’s position on energy policies? How did your audiences react to your presentations, considering the current climate?

A:   I have been a student of energy law and policy for nearly two decades now, and I think the Trump administration’s policies cannot be understood outside the broader context of our nation’s historical policies.  Hopefully, I brought that perspective to bear in my lectures.  What is very clear is that the Trump administration has a coherent and specific energy policy, bound together by a unifying philosophy and already being implemented in very concrete ways.  I think this may be surprising to some, but it becomes very obvious when you pull the lens back and look systematically at the actions the Trump administration is taking on energy.  There is a direct and unbroken line between his tweets prior to becoming a candidate, what he promised on the campaign trail, and what his administration is now doing.

Q:   Will this topic be something you continue to research in the coming academic year?

A:    Yes.  I will be keeping a very close eye on how this policy develops, as I am currently at work on a second edition of my energy law casebook (with Klass, Osofsky, Tomain, and Wilson), and will also be speaking at Florida State University this fall on a topic related to what I spoke about in Australia.