As America heads towards elections this November, the plans and policies of the presidential candidates are becoming clearer as President Barrack Obama and Republican opponent Mitt Romney clashed in three presidential debates over the course of this month. This has given rise to many debates among the various sections of society.
Energy policy had been one of the key topics that was fiercely debated. With the Americans depending on energy for everything from smartphones to factory operations, voters are keen to understand the stance taken by Obama and Romney on energy-production, cost-cuts, green energy and so on. It is clear that the energy policy of the future government will have a strong impact on America’s economy as well as environment.
Key implications of future energy policies will have a direct impact on the Silicon Valley, known as the global center of clean technology, as it houses several renewable energy start-up companies, and the neighboring Bay area providing over 78,000 green jobs. Likewise, Iowa, Colorado and California will also be largely affected by the energy policy, as these are wind energy hubs.
Watch this short video from the 2012 Presidential Debate, discussing Energy.
Run time - 2:34mins
Barrack Obama's Policy on Green Energy
President Obama leans strongly towards diversifying the energy industry to include wind, solar, hydropower, nuclear power, and biofuels. He does not believe in purely relying on the traditional sources of energy and feels that it is essential to not just focus on the now but also the future and how America produces energy.
Obama supports extracting natural gas from dense shale rock formations in the country. However, he is not against drilling for oil in new areas as well. The Obama government has spent billions to promote green energy and supports tax credit for the wind industry. The wind energy industry has not only created job opportunities but has also doubled the production of electricity.
Out of the 26 companies that received loan guarantees from his administration, three (Beacon, Abound, and Solyndra) filed for bankruptcy. The Obama administration has also implemented higher standards of fuel-efficiency for cars.
Mitt Romney's Policy on Green Energy
Mitt Romney’s energy policy supports the promotion of the traditional sources of energy production, which is coal and oil. He plans to enforce aggressive exploitation of oil, gas, and coal in the country and provide speedy approval of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas, so that America becomes self-sufficient and independent of foreign energy sources by 2020.
In his debates, Romney has expressed his opposition to subsidies and tax breaks for renewable energy provided by the Obama-led government over the past term. He quotes the example of Solyndra, a solar manufacturing plant, which received $528 million in federal loan guarantees but filed for bankruptcy last year.
The Republican Party had promoted and managed to get the No More Solyndras Act passed in the House of Representatives this year, which would curtail some Department of Energy (DOE) research funding programs and Department of Defense’s efforts to procure clean energy and clean technology. However, this is yet to reach the Senate.
Romney states that the increase in domestic oil production during Obama’s tenure was only due to the oil produced by private companies outside the federal government’s jurisdiction. He plans to change this to ensure that government-owned lands and companies produce oil, coal, gas, nuclear, and renewables.
In the recent presidential debates, Obama and Romney focused on domestic energy production, mainly oil and natural gas, as this would be a primary factor in reviving the economy and decreasing gas costs. But this was as far as their similarities went. Natural gas, which is the cleaner alternative to coal, has been adopted by both candidates. However, the pace and governmental support for those projects will vary under either administration.
Both candidates proposed completely different views regarding the nation's energy future. The energy debate pretty much revolved around renewable energy versus fossil fuels in the larger sense, with Obama stating that Romney may have major plans for oil and gas, but did not have any regarding clean energy, and Romney saying that Obama seemed to promote ‘war on coal’.
The recent discovery of vast oil reserves in North Dakota, discoveries of natural gas in Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia coupled with improved drilling techniques and increased production in the traditional energy states such as Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas, will ensure a boom in the energy sector regardless of who forms the government.
However, environmental concerns need to be taken into account as modern drilling techniques, such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, could pollute air and water and become a major health hazard, as modern techniques use harmful chemicals.
Another video from the 2012 Presidential debate showing that Energy is on the agenda for each candidate - run time - 6:01mins