Hillary Clinton’s Vision for Modernizing North American Energy Infrastructure

Flipping a light switch, adjusting the thermostat, or turning a car key in the ignition brings predictable results—the light goes on, the temperature changes, the car starts. But where the energy for those everyday tasks comes from has changed dramatically in recent years, due to massive gains in renewable energy and a boom in domestic oil and gas production. And the amount of energy required to perform those tasks has fallen thanks to historic advances in efficiency.

Our policies and infrastructure have not kept pace with recent changes to the American energy system. American communities have endured toxic pipeline spills and deadly rail explosions as the amount of oil produced and transported across the country has expanded. Our existing natural gas distribution network is increasingly antiquated and in need of repair, while new networks must be built to serve parts of the country still dependent on more polluting propane and fuel oil for heating and cooking.

Our electrical grid needs upgrading to harness new technology that reduces energy costs and increases consumer choice, and to address the growing threat of cyberattack. And we must invest in the new infrastructure that will make the transition to a clean energy economy possible, keep energy affordable and reliable, meet both base load and peak demand, protect the health of our families and our climate, and drive job creation and innovation.

This work starts at home, but we can’t do it alone. The United States is part of a deeply integrated North American energy market, with interconnected pipeline and electricity systems and a shared market for vehicles and clean energy technologies. We trade as much energy with Canada and Mexico each year as with the rest of the world combined. As we invest in modernizing the United States’ energy infrastructure, we need to do so as part of a continent-wide strategy that ensures safe, reliable and affordable energy delivery, unlocks economic opportunity for American businesses and workers, and accelerates the transition to a clean energy economy across the North American continent.

Hillary Clinton’s North American energy infrastructure plan will do this in several key ways.


The United States has more than two million miles of oil and gas pipelines, many of which are outdated and in need of repair or replacement. This increases the risk of oil spills, methane leaks that help drive climate change, and dangerous explosions. A 20-fold increase in the amount of oil shipped by rail over the past five years has led to devastating accidents. Our electric grid too often fails during extreme weather events – and is increasingly vulnerable to cyberattack. These challenges extend beyond our borders to Canada and Mexico, and will be most effectively tackled if all three countries work together.

To address these issues Hillary Clinton will:

Modernize our Pipeline System

  • Repair or replace thousands of miles of outdated pipelines to improve safety and reduce methane leaks by the end of her first term in office.
  • Improve pipeline regulations, including instituting automatic or remote-controlled shut-off valves and leak detection standards that have been recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board.
  • Work to close the loophole that allows companies to ship oil sands crude without paying into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

Increase Rail Safety

  • Accelerate the phase-out of outdated tank cars that create the greatest safety risk and make information on companies’ progress available to the general public. Ensure rail regulations are strengthened and enforced within the United States and across the U.S.-Canada border.
  • Instruct the Department of Transportation to guarantee that first responders and the public have better information on oil and hazardous materials passing through their communities.
  • Partner with rail companies in aggressively repairing track defects that cause derailments and evaluate whether shale oil presents unique explosion risks.

Enhance Grid Security

  • Create a Presidential Threat Assessment and Response Team to improve coordination across federal agencies and strengthen collaboration with state and local officials and the electric power industry in assessing and addressing cybersecurity threats.
  • Implement a cybersecurity strategy that integrates and protects the expanded use of distributed energy resources and other cutting-edge clean energy technologies.
  • Provide new tools and resources to states, cities and rural communities to make the investments necessary to improve grid resilience to both cyber-attack and extreme weather events.


From the Tennessee Valley Authority to the Hoover Dam to the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System, when the United States invests in building, upgrading, and improving our national infrastructure, we create good jobs and careers, boost economic competitiveness, and give rise to entirely new industries. Clinton will galvanize the investment needed to help cities, states, and rural communities upgrade and repair existing energy infrastructure and build the new infrastructure we will need for a clean energy future through:

  • A National Infrastructure Bank: Establish a National Infrastructure Bank to leverage public and private capital to invest in critically important infrastructure projects, including energy infrastructure projects.
  • Challenge Grants: Award competitive grants through Clinton’s Clean Energy Challenge to states, cities and rural communities that take the lead in reducing carbon pollution by investing in renewable energy, nuclear power and carbon capture and sequestration, and reducing energy costs by investing in efficiency in both new and existing buildings.
  • Accelerating Investment: Ensure the federal government is a partner in getting clean and affordable energy to market by making the infrastructure review and permitting process more efficient and effective.
  • Expanding Consumer Choice: Offer financing tools for grid investments that support the integration of distributed energy resources and for gas pipeline investments that enable households and businesses to switch away from heating oil and other petroleum products.
  • A New “Pipeline Partnership”: Help cities, states, and rural communities repair and replace thousands of miles of pipelines by leveraging big data, predictive analytics and innovative testing procedures to more quickly and effectively find and fix pipeline leaks through a public-private partnership between federal regulators, pipeline companies, local utility commissions and leading technology providers and research institutions.
  • Transportation Funding: Work with Congress to close corporate tax loopholes and increase investment in transportation solutions that expand transit access and reduce commute times, oil consumption, and pollution.
  • Innovation: Increase public investment in clean energy R&D, including in storage technology, designed materials, advanced nuclear, and carbon capture and sequestration. Expand successful innovation initiatives, like ARPA-e, and cut those that fail to deliver results.


The United States isn’t in this alone. The entire North American continent must accelerate the clean energy transition and develop more comprehensive approaches to cutting carbon pollution. As President, Clinton will immediately launch negotiations with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to secure a North American Climate Compact that includes ambitious national targets, coordinated policy approaches, and strong accountability measures to catalyze clean energy deployment, reduce energy costs, cut greenhouse gas emissions, guide infrastructure investment, and make our integrated energy and vehicle markets cleaner and more efficient. This will include:

  • Ambitious Targets: Drive greater ambition in the global fight against climate change through coordinated targets for clean energy and cutting carbon pollution, internationally recognized reporting mechanisms, and a binding review process.
  • Clean Power Markets: Build on the momentum created by the Clean Power Plan, which sets the first national limits on carbon pollution from the energy sector, and regional emissions trading schemes in Canada, Mexico, and the United States to drive low carbon power generation across the continent, modernize our interconnected electrical grid, and ensure that national carbon policies take advantage of integrated markets.
  • Clean Transportation: Work to harmonize vehicle efficiency, emissions and fuel standards, strategies for electric vehicle deployment, clean freight and logistics, and other low-carbon transportation solutions.
  • Methane Management: Establish continent-wide methane emissions reduction targets and coordinated strategies for reducing leaks from both new and existing sources.
  • Infrastructure Standards: Develop common, world-class standards for North American infrastructure that create good jobs and careers, support prevailing wage and project labor agreements, and ensure energy transportation across the continent is clean, safe, reliable and affordable.

Clinton’s vision for modernizing North American energy infrastructure is one pillar of her comprehensive energy and climate agenda, which includes major initiatives in the following areas:

  1. Clean Energy Challenge: Develop, defend and implement smart federal energy and climate standards. Provide states, cities and rural communities ready to lead on clean energy and exceed these standards with the flexibility, tools and resources they need to succeed.
  2. Energy and Climate Security: Reduce the amount of oil consumed in the United States and around the world, guard against energy supply disruptions, and make our communities, our infrastructure, and our financial markets more resilient to risks posed by climate change.
  3. Safe and Responsible Production: Ensure that fossil fuel production taking place today is safe and responsible, that taxpayers get a fair deal for development on public lands, and that areas that are too sensitive for energy production are taken off the table.
  4. Revitalizing Coal Communities: Protect the health and retirement security of coalfield workers and their families and provide economic opportunities for those that kept the lights on and factories running for more than a century.
  5. Collaborative Stewardship: Renew our shared commitment to the conservation of our disappearing lands, waters, and wildlife, to the preservation of our history and culture, and to expanding access to the outdoors for all Americans.