During a news conference with the prime minister of Norway, President Trump offered words of praise for her country.
“One of the great assets of Norway is a thing called ‘water,’ ” Trump said, “and they have tremendous hydropower. Tremendous. In fact, most of your electricity is produced by hydro.”
This is true. In November, the most recent month for which data is available, more than 95 percent of the power generated in Norway came from hydroelectricity.
“I wish we’d do some of that,” he said. “But hydropower is fantastic, and it’s a great asset that you have.”
It’s . . . an asset that the United States has, too. In fact, the United States produces more electricity from hydroelectric generating systems than does Norway. In October 2017, the United States produced 17.2 million megawatt-hours of electricity from hydroelectric power. The following month, Norway produced 13.7 million megawatt-hours.
Granted, the United States is a much bigger country than Norway. But it’s still the case that hydroelectric generation makes up 5 percent of U.S. power production. It’s the fifth-largest generation method in the country, after wind but before solar (including both residential and commercial solar generation).
Where is this hydroelectric generation taking place? Well, at the Hoover Dam, for one. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. The industry employs about 5,800 people.
The subject came up because Trump was asked about the Paris climate agreement. Last year, Trump announced that he would withdraw the United States from that global accord, arguing that it put the country at a disadvantage.
“It put great penalties on us,” he said. “It made it very difficult for us to deal in terms of business. It took away a lot of our asset values. We are a country rich in gas and coal and oil, and lots of other things, and there was a tremendous penalty for using it. It hurt our businesses.”
The Paris agreement is voluntary, establishing a framework for greenhouse-gas emission reductions beginning in 2020.
Trump also defended the fossil fuel industry broadly when asked about his response to Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
“I am for massive oil and gas and everything else, and a lot of energy,” Trump said. “Putin can’t love that. I am for the strongest military that the United States ever had. Putin can’t love that.”
He then returned to one of his favorite subjects.
“But Hillary was not for a strong military,” he said of his Democratic rival in the 2016 election. “And Hillary, my opponent, was for windmills, and she was for other types of energy that don’t have the same capacities at this moment certainly.”
As noted above, the wind industry — which Trump has hated since he fought a protracted battle with Scottish authorities to prevent an offshore wind farm near one of his golf courses — generates more electricity than does hydroelectric power. And solar is catching up: In October 2015, hydroelectric generation systems produced 5.4 times as much electricity as solar systems. In October, it produced 2.5 times as much.
What’s most surprising about this is that hydroelectricity, like wind and solar, is a renewable power resource. And in April 2016, Trump made a bold claim about those generation methods.
“I know more about renewables than any human being on Earth,” he told Fox News’s Sean Hannity.
“Are there millions of jobs — for example, for people in this crowd, are there millions of jobs in the energy sector if we commit as a country to energy independence?” Hannity asked Trump a little later.
“Yes, there’s millions of jobs in everything,” Trump replied.