Energy and the Environment: What the Presidential Candidates Believe

May 2nd, 2012 | Simcha Weinstein | 2 Comments »

In the upcoming Presidential election this fall and throughout the campaign season, we will hear plenty of debate and discussion from the candidates on the issue of jobs, the economy, and foreign policy. It is doubtful that we will hear much, if anything at all concerning the environment or climate change.

No issue is fundamentally more critical to Americans than climate change and the rapid increase of our global temperature. If the earth continues to warm at its current pace, many of the issues that seem important to us now, will be miniscule at best, if we can’t manage the carbon that is filling our atmosphere.

So, in lieu of the conversation gap about energy and the environment, here is a primer (with help from websites around the web) on what each candidate has said, written, posted on their website, or actually done regarding the environment and energy. In many cases I use their actual words to describe their positions. This is in no way an attempt to be partisan or to endorse one candidate over the other. It’s simply to provide you with information from each side about important issues that will likely not see much daylight during the campaign, but are very important issues to many of us and certainly to our industry.

Obama – Big Oil Subsidies

– Calls on Congress to end oil subsidies and to double down on clean energy investments.

– Pledged to cut subsidies for oil, coal, and natural gas internationally, among G20 nations.

Romney – Big Oil Subsidies

– Romney has blasted Obama for wanting to close these loopholes for the industry, saying the president is increasing taxes.

– Romney supports the House Republican budget, which preserves the $40 billion in subsidies for the oil and gas industry.

Obama – Energy Efficiency

– Finalizing new modern standards requiring cars and light-duty trucks to achieve an average fuel economy rating of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 — double the rate in 2010. These savings will cut U.S. oil use by 2.2 million barrels per day by 2025—a move that will save drivers $8,000 per vehicle due to fewer gasoline purchases compared to a 2010 car.

– Began the Better Buildings Initiative, which makes commercial facilities 20 percent more efficient by 2020.

– Directed federal agencies to make $2 billion worth of energy efficiency upgrades in two years.

Romney – Energy Efficiency

– Against raising standards for energy-efficient lighting, which was actually coauthored by Republicans and signed into law by President George W. Bush.

– Supports the House GOP Ryan budget, which would cut investments in energy efficiency by 20 percent in 2013.

Obama – Public Lands

– Announced he would “allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power 3 million homes.

– Signed a public lands bill in 2009 that designated two million acres of wilderness and three national parks.

Romney – Public Lands

– Romney said “I haven’t studied what the purpose is of public lands. But he finds it unacceptable when conservation is “designed to satisfy, let’s say, the most extreme environmentalists, from keeping a population from developing their coal, their gold, their other resources for the benefit of the state.”

– Fully embraced the House Republican budget from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). ” It sells off 3.3 millions of acres of national parks and public lands.

Obama – Global Warming

– “I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But here’s the thing — even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy-efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future – because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy.”

– State Department is leading a group of countries in a program that cuts global warming pollutants like soot, methane and hydrofluorocarbons.

– Issued the first ever carbon pollution rules for power plants, affecting new coal-fired power plants.

Romney – Global Warming

– Doesn’t believe carbon pollution is a threat, reversing his stance as governor: “I don’t think carbon is a pollutant in the sense of harming our bodies.”

– My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.”

– Says the Clean Air Act doesn’t apply to carbon emissions: “My view is that the EPA in getting into carbon and regulating carbon has gone beyond the original intent of that legislation, and I would not take it there.”

Obama – Air Pollution from Power Plants

– Unveiled rules that limit harmful mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants. The initiative prevents 11,000 premature deaths and 4,700 heart attacks a year, and 130,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms.

Romney – Air Pollution from Power Plants

– ‘Aggressively” develop all our coal sources. “Coal is America’s most abundant energy source. We have reserves that—at current rates of uses—will last for the next 200 years of electricity production in an industry that directly employs perhaps 200,000 workers.

– Against new EPA regulations of harmful mercury and air pollutants from coal: “I think the EPA has gotten completely out of control for a very simple reason. It is a tool in the hands of the president to crush the private enterprise system, to crush our ability to have energy, whether it’s oil, gas, coal, nuclear.”

Obama – Fuel Efficient Cars

– New modern standards require cars and some trucks to achieve an average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. This cuts U.S. oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels of oil per day by 2025, saving Americans $1.7 trillion and cuts carbon pollution.

– Set a goal that by 2015 there would be 1 million electric vehicles on the road.

Romney – Fuel Efficient Cars

– Called the Chevrolet Volt “an idea whose time has not come” and “I’m not sure America was ready for the Chevy Volt.”

– Against fuel efficiency standards, calling it “disadvantageous for domestic manufacturers.”

– Advocates ending federal loan program helping companies develop and produce efficient cars.

Obama – Green Jobs

– Historic level of investment in clean energy, a sector now with 3.1 million Americans employed. In 2008, Obama promised to create 5 million green jobs.

Romney – Green Jobs

– Repeatedly called green jobs fake, for example calling them “illusory” in an op-ed. “[Obama] keeps talking about green jobs, where are they?”

– Against renewable energy production credits, which risks the end of 37,000 jobs, according to a figure from Navigant Consulting.

It’s really about two very different approaches to our environment. Romney believes the solution to our environmental problem lies in adopting a market approach. While solving the environmental challenges, we should also be supporting growth. Obama’s approach looks to the government to intervene to create standards and incentives to move the issues of energy and environment forward. Let the debates begin.