Skip to content

Fact-Checking Trump on Energy and Jobs at a Houston Rally

  • by

A Biden electric Army tank mandate? A decimation of auto jobs? The G.O.P. front-runner used misleading and recycled claims to talk about energy and jobs.

At a campaign rally in Houston on Thursday that opened with former President Donald J. Trump erroneously referring to jailed Jan. 6 Capitol riot defendants as “hostages,” the Republican primary front-runner used a series of false and misleading claims to make his case for another term in the White House.

Mr. Trump’s speech, delivered at the headquarters of a company that makes equipment for offshore drilling, touched on a range of issues, but he devoted much of his address to the topics of energy and jobs. And to illustrate his points, he turned to recycled — and in some cases outright false — assertions.

Here is a closer look at several of the claims Mr. Trump made during his speech.

WHAT WAS SAID

“All boats have to go electric. Army tanks have to go electric.” “Think of this, they want to make our Army tanks all electric for the environment.”

False. Mr. Trump made these statements after referring to Mr. Biden’s “insane mandates,” erroneously suggesting that the White House has put such requirements in place. There are no mandates for electrifying all boats and Army tanks.

The Army does have plans to electrify nontactical vehicles — but “those are largely commercial vehicles, not military platforms that go through the military acquisition system,” said Fabian Villalobos, an associate engineer at the RAND Corporation who has written on the issue.

On the tactical side, the Army has set goals to incorporate hybrid tactical vehicles by 2035 and fully electric tactical vehicles by 2050. But those are not tanks. And they are goals and not mandates.

Mr. Villalobos said in an email that the push has a lot to do with the benefits of electric vehicles — such as the ability to perform silent watch. “In fact, military vehicles are exempt from emissions regulations set by the E.P.A.,” he said.

WHAT WAS SAID

“So Biden’s, ‘Crooked Joe’s,’ green new energy calamity is one of the biggest factors causing, as you know, the inflation disaster — which is about the worst we’ve ever had. The typical American family is paying more than $2,250 in increased energy costs since Biden took office. That’s a lot.”

This requires context. The Republican National Committee has attributed that statistic to a November 2022 inflation analysis published by the Republican lawmakers on Congress’ Joint Economic Committee. But that analysis used as a baseline January 2021, when energy use was down during the coronavirus pandemic.

Using Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer survey data and comparing annual 2022 costs with costs in 2019, before Covid, would show a $1,520 increase in combined utilities and gas costs, said Alex Amend, a communications director for Rewiring America, a nonprofit advocacy group.

Mr. Trump suggested Mr. Biden’s energy policies were to blame for the rise in costs in the Republicans’ 2022 analysis. But provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act — the major climate and energy policy Mr. Biden signed in August 2022 — were not in effect yet. Other factors, such as the Russia-Ukraine war, did spur a spike in gas prices. There are many factors that have helped drive inflation, including increased consumer spending and a shortage of goods during the pandemic, though economists have said that government policies, such as infusing stimulus money into the economy, have contributed as well.

“Efforts to attribute changes in inflation or incomes to particular points in time and particular presidential terms are usually silly,” said C. Eugene Steuerle, co-founder of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. “In the case of the price of gasoline, it is largely dependent upon many factors that stretch across both presidential terms and across countries. The war in Ukraine and reduced production by oil-rich countries are among them.”

WHAT WAS SAID

“I had gas prices down to $1.87 a gallon. How does that sound? And we were producing at a level that nobody’s ever seen before.”

This requires context. The national average price of a gallon of gasoline did reach a low of $1.87 for the week ending April 27, 2020, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data. But that low did not last, and when Mr. Trump left office in January 2021, the national average price for a gallon was $2.42.

Crude oil production did reach a record high in 2019 under Mr. Trump, with an average of more than 12.3 million barrels per day. But that is expected to be surpassed this year, according to a U.S. Energy Information Administration report, with the United States projected to average more than 12.9 million barrels per day.

Image

Supporters listened as Mr. Trump at times turned to faulty — and in some cases recycled — assertions during his speech.Credit…Brandon Bell/Getty Images

WHAT WAS SAID

“The autoworkers just signed a deal and they got an increase. But they got an increase, but they won’t have jobs in three years because everything is going electric. And you know the story with the cars, it doesn’t work. You’re not going to make electric cars in this country. We don’t have what’s necessary for electric cars.”

False. Mr. Trump was referring to the United Automobile Workers union reaching deals with General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis after a six-week strike. The agreements for workers at the three Detroit automakers include a 25 percent pay increase over the next four and a half years and a provision to help protect against inflation.

While electric vehicles can be made with fewer workers than gasoline vehicles, the total impact of the transition on jobs is the subject of debate and varying estimates. But there is no evidence that the shift will decimate auto jobs in three years. U.A.W. officials have expressed support for the transition to electric vehicles, with certain job protections in place.

And contrary to Mr. Trump’s contention that “you’re not going to make electric cars in this country,” many manufacturers are already making electric vehicles in the United States and investing more in the technology.

WHAT WAS SAID

“Biden surrendered our energy independence to foreign producers.”

This is misleading. The United States became a net exporter of petroleum in 2020, the first time in at least seven decades. That remained the case in 2022, under Mr. Biden. The country also remains a net exporter of natural gas.

Even so, the United States continues to import millions of barrels of crude oil and other petroleum products a day — as it did under Mr. Trump — whereas the term “energy independence” might imply that the country is not reliant on such imports.

Curious about the accuracy of a claim? Email factcheck@nytimes.com.

 Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *