Just after President-Elect Donald Trump’s historic victory, we had the
opportunity to speak with Jeff Lenard, spokesman and vice president of
strategic initiatives for the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS),
the nation’s gasoline retailers.
Does the election result change the outlook on energy or fuel prices?
Jeff Lenard explains why today there are simply more questions than answers—but
perhaps reason for optimism, too. Here are some highlights from our conversation:
“Let’s look at fuels and how that might play out.
I think one thing we
can look to see between now and January 20 is what will be done in Congress.
Will Democrats try to push things, assuming that it might be more difficult
with a new Congress and administration? There are some expiring tax provisions
related to renewable energy, and how might those play out before Trump takes
office? I think that will be one big factor.
More broadly, what
role will renewable fuels have over the next few years in policy and regulatory
discussions? It’s a little early in the whole scheme of things, but there may
be less conversation about climate change and regulations related to that, and
more discussion about economic growth and energy exploration.
Energy is probably
the one area that is most fleshed out related to our industry. Convenience
stores are essentially involved in every issue that Congress debates, on some
level or another. So we have issues related to labor, issues related to food
and taxes…and the list goes on. But I think there has been less information on
how the new administration might play out with respect to some of those. Energy
is a big one, and RINs (Renewable Identification Numbers) as well.
We’ve had sub-$3.00
gas for more than two years now, and it looks like there’s going to be an
increased emphasis on continuing production in the U.S. What will that do to
oil prices? You can’t predict how changes in the global environment might affect
oil prices because there is always a need to import petroleum on some level or
another, whether it’s raw or refined. And global relations could play a role in
oil prices both here and abroad. It is way too early to draw any speculation on
what this means for any sort of international relations.
Remember, the inauguration isn’t until January 20. And the transition to the
new administration is well under way. Lenard noted that, “there’s plenty of
time to air disagreements and time to push forward what one believes is best
for the country.” Given the high degree of divisiveness and emotion leading up
to, and immediately after, the election, he added, “I think that Donald Trump’s
initial message of ‘let’s come together’ is pretty thoughtful.”