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President Donald Trump put himself on the side of average Americans in his effort to reduce government regulations, particularly on energy.
"We have ended the war on American Energy and we have ended the war on beautiful clean coal," Trump said. "We are now, very proudly, an exporter of energy to the world."
There are different ways to understand the claim that America is "now ... an exporter of energy."
One way to read Trump’s statement is that the United States only recently began to export energy. This is flat wrong.
"We have been exporting coal, natural gas, electricity, refined products and energy technologies for a very long time," Paul Sullivan, a professor at National Defense University, told us in August. "Liquefied natural gas exports from Alaska to Japan have been around for a long time."
Trump might have meant that the United States had only recently become a net exporter of energy — meaning the total of all U.S. energy exports recently overtook the total of all U.S. energy imports. That’s also inaccurate.
"This has been falling, but we are still a huge net energy importer," Jason Bordoff, who directs Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, told us.
In its most recent projections, the federal Energy Information Administration concluded that the United States would become a net energy exporter around 2026, depending on the course of future patterns of global supply, demand and pricing.
The United States has been a net coal exporter for many years. It has been a net exporter of refined petroleum products since around 2011. So neither of those would make Trump correct.
Natural gas has done better. In the Energy Information Administration's January 2018 shorter-term energy outlook, it reported that "in 2017, the United States was a net exporter of natural gas for the first time on an annual basis since 1957."
We reached out to the White House and did not hear back.
Trump said, "We are now, very proudly, an exporter of energy to the world."
The United States has been exporting different forms of energy for many years. It has been a net exporter of coal and refined petroleum products, a fact that predates Trump. The one new development is natural gas. For the first time since 1957, the United States became a net exporter in 2017.
Overall though, it is a net energy importer, a situation that’s not expected to change until midway through the next decade.
We rate this claim Mostly False.
Donald Trump, 2018 State of the Union address, Jan. 30, 2018
Energy Information Administration, "Net petroleum product exports continue to increase," July 8, 2015
Energy Information Administration, "U.S. Exports of Crude Oil," accessed Aug 23, 2017
Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook, January 2018
Email interview with Paul Sullivan, professor at National Defense University and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, Aug. 23, 2017
Email interview with Anna Mikulska, fellow with Rice University’s Center for Energy Studies, Aug. 23, 2017
Email interview with Jason Bordoff, director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, Aug. 23, 2017
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