For The Record

Photograph by Kim Lee Schmidt

Energy advisers to the Clinton and Trump campaigns squared off in a forum in the Law School’s moot courtroom in the weeks before the presidential election. Law professor Noah Sachs, an expert in environmental law, moderated the debate, which featured Rep. Kevin Cramer, R.-N.D., and Trevor Houser, who co-directs the Climate Impact Lab.

The event “provided a rare chance for representatives of the Clinton and Trump campaigns to discuss energy policy, which received little attention at the presidential and vice presidential debates,” wrote The Hill, one of several national media outlets that covered it. Under the headline “The Trump and Clinton campaigns finally had a substantive climate debate,” Vox.com offered “credit to both advisers for participating and to the University of Richmond for hosting an all-too-rare climate discussion in this election.”

Hot topics of discussion included the role of the Environmental Protection Agency.

“It is important for Congress, when they pass an authorizing piece of legislation, to define what an agency can do very specifically — and probably important to define what it shouldn’t do,” Cramer said.

The struggles of America’s coal industry were also a subject of disagreement.

Houser characterized the industry’s challenges as structural, saying, “While the ‘war on coal’ narrative makes a good sound bite in coal country, while it’s easy for Donald Trump to show up to a rally and put on a hard hat and promise to return coal employment back to its glory days, we’ve been transitioning away from coal employment for a long time.”

Cramer critcized what he described as government interference in the energy sector. “The government should not be determining who gets a job and who gets a government program,” he said. “They ought to be out of the business of determining those things and let the market decide.”