Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

Obama vs. Romney: Energy Obama vs. Romney: Energy

This ad will end in seconds
 
Close X

Not a member? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation
 

 

Obama vs Romney on the Issues / OBAMA VS. ROMNEY: ENERGY

Obama vs. Romney: Energy

photo of Coral Davenport
August 23, 2012

ENERGY: OBAMA

SPECIFIC POLICY POSITIONS

CLIMATE CHANGE
In 2008, Obama campaigned on a pledge to enact a sweeping cap-and-trade law that would slash fossil-fuel pollution, mandate increased production of renewable electricity, and spend $150 billion on clean-energy research over a decade. The bill failed in the Senate, and “cap-and-trade” has become a politically toxic phrase, but the president has continued to pursue elements of climate-change and carbon-reduction policy. He used his executive authority to issue Environmental Protection Agency regulations to cut fossil-fuel emissions from power plants and to ramp up fuel-economy standards for vehicles. In an April interview with Rolling Stone, Obama said, “I will be very clear in voicing my belief that we’re going to have to take further steps to deal with climate change in a serious way.”

OIL AND GAS DRILLING
The president supports some expansion of oil and gas drilling: EPA and the Interior Department have approved permits for drilling in U.S. waters in the Arctic Ocean off the Alaskan coast. He is cautiously supportive of hydraulic fracturing, aka “fracking,” to extract deposits of oil and gas trapped in shale, although EPA has issued new regulations for the process. Obama has touted the fact that domestic oil drilling is at its highest level in eight years and that the nation’s dependence on foreign oil has dropped to below 50 percent for the first time in 13 years. But much of that improvement resulted from the selling of drilling leases during the Bush administration and from activity on private land, which doesn’t require federal permitting. Obama wants to end $4 billion in annual tax breaks to big oil companies.

 

RENEWABLE ENERGY
Despite GOP attacks in the wake of the Solyndra controversy, Obama has continued to push for loan guarantees, cash grants, and tax credits for the production of wind and solar power, and tax breaks for the purchase of hybrid and electric vehicles. He has ramped up the Pentagon’s use of renewable energy through major purchase agreements for wind and solar power and for biofuels. Obama hopes to expand the funding of cutting-edge technology research. He has proposed a “clean-electricity standard” that would mandate electricity production from zero-carbon sources, including wind and solar.

NUCLEAR ENERGY
The president supports policies that would lead to an expansion of nuclear energy. His proposed climate-change policies, if enacted, could boost nuclear-energy production. He has asked Congress to pass a clean-electricity standard that would mandate the production of electricity from zero-carbon sources, including nuclear power. He opposes construction of a federal nuclear-waste dump at Yucca Mountain, Nev., and he tasked a blue-ribbon panel to come up with other options for disposing of the waste. In the wake of the nuclear meltdown in Japan, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a slew of safety recommendations for new U.S. plants.

 

RECORD

2009 STIMULUS LAW
Injected about $40 billion into clean-energy programs but included a $535 million loan guarantee to the now-bankrupt solar company Solyndra that gave GOP critics an opening.

KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE
Obama delayed a decision on the controversial 1,700-mile pipeline that would bring 700,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Hinted that he would approve it in a second term.

CLEAN AIR
In the absence of congress­ional action on climate change, Obama’s EPA issued rules to cut global-warming pollution and other toxic emissions from coal plants.

FUEL ECONOMY
Obama struck a deal with auto­makers to raise vehicle fuel-economy standards from 35.5 mpg to 54.5 mpg by 2025, which would cut oil demand and fossil-fuel emissions, while boosting production of hybrid and electric vehicles.

 

KEY ADVISERS

Steven Chu: The Energy secretary is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist steeped in climate-change
research. First viewed as a sterling pick for the agency’s top job, he has been tarnished
by the Solyndra controversy and is considered unlikely to stick around for a second term.

Lisa Jackson: The EPA administrator brought an environmentalist’s zeal to the task of
enacting controversial clean-air regulations on coal-fired power plants. Republicans have
made Jackson a top target, attacking her as the face of “job-killing” regulations.

Ken Salazar: The Interior secretary is a former senator from Colorado with a strong
understanding of both the renewable-energy and the fossil-fuel industries. He survived
the BP oil spill and oversaw a fundamental restructuring of his agency in its wake.

Heather Zichal: She served as a deputy to Carol Browner, Obama’s first energy
and climate “czar.” Since Browner’s departure in 2011, Zichal has been Obama’s
chief energy adviser.

 

 

 

ENERGY: ROMNEY

SPECIFIC POLICY POSITIONS

CLIMATE CHANGE
In his book No Apology, Romney wrote, “I believe that climate  change is occurring…. I also believe that human activity is a contributing factor,” and he floated the idea of a carbon tax to reduce fossil-fuel pollution. But in a campaign appearance last fall he said, “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.” Romney would overhaul  the Clean Air Act to streamline environmental controls on coal-fired power plants and oil refineries, and would eliminate EPA’s authority to regulate carbon pollution.

OIL AND GAS DRILLING
“The United States is blessed with a cornucopia of carbon-based energy resources,” says Romney’s jobs plan. Romney would have the Interior Department conduct an inventory of the nation’s oil and gas resources, and he would permit drilling “wherever it can be done safely,” including off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in the Gulf of Mexico, and off the Alaskan coast. He says he would streamline drilling permitting with a “one-stop shop” for approval of common activities. To encourage states to allow more exploration, Romney would allow coastal states to share in revenues from offshore drilling. He would promote “fracking” of gas and oil trapped in shale, allowing states to regulate fracking without enduring “overly aggressive interventions” by EPA.

RENEWABLE ENERGY
The former governor would end loan guarantees, cash grants, tax incentives, and other such spending on clean-energy research; he would instead redirect the money toward basic research in programs such as the Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. This is one area where he overlaps with Obama, who has also made ARPA-E a top priority. “Government has a role to play in innovation in the energy industry,” Romney writes in his jobs plan. But he adds, “We should not be in the business of steering investment toward particularly political favored approaches.”

NUCLEAR ENERGY
Romney would push to expand nuclear energy by streamlining licensing procedures for new nuclear reactors so that projects with an approved design or adjacent to existing facilities could be completed within two years. He would give the Nuclear Regulatory Commission the resources to review and approve several types of reactors quickly. Romney has criticized Obama’s opposition to building a nuclear-waste dump at Yucca Mountain, Nev., but says that if the people of Nevada don’t want the facility, the federal government should allow other states to identify potential sites for the project. “Let the free market work,” Romney says. “That’s the right course for America.”

 

RECORD

COAL EMISSIONS
As Massachusetts governor, Romney implemented emissions caps for coal-fired power plants. Now he supports rolling back federal limits on coal emissions.

CLIMATE CHANGE
Romney worked closely with governors of other New England states to craft a regional cap-and-trade program—but he didn’t sign on to the final plan.

FUEL ECONOMY
In a 2008 CNN interview, Romney said that higher fuel-economy standards and hybrid cars will help reduce oil dependence. But in a February 2012 radio interview, he said that higher fuel-economy standards are “disadvantageous for domestic manufacturers.”

ENERGY EFFICIENCY
As governor, Romney signed a law giving tax breaks and loan programs to homes and businesses that implemented energy-efficiency measures and installed solar water heaters.

 

KEY ADVISERS

Jim Talent: The former senator from Missouri wrote part of the energy chapter of Romney’s 59-point jobs plan. Talent is a partner in the D.C. lobbying firm Mercury Public Affairs, which counts among its clients Peabody Energy, one of the nation’s largest coal companies.

Harold Hamm: The Oklahoma billionaire, who made his fortune in fracking exploration, became a top energy adviser to Romney in March. Forbes magazine ranked him 36th on its 2011 list of the 400 wealthiest people in the world.

Gregory Mankiw: Romney’s longtime economics adviser raised eyebrows four years ago with an op-ed calling for a carbon tax to combat global warming. Mankiw, a Harvard economics professor, is former chairman of President George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Jeff Holmstead: George W. Bush’s former assistant EPA chief now lobbies for the fossil-fuel industry at Bracewell & Giuliani. He has been an informal adviser to the current campaign. 

More Obama vs Romney on the Issues
Job Board
Search Jobs
Transportation Planner
American Society of Civil Engineers | Salinas, CA
Biomedical Service Internship Position
American Society of Civil Engineers | Flint, MI
Fire Sprinkler Inspector
American Society of Civil Engineers | Charlotte, NC
Deputy Director of Transit Operations
American Society of Civil Engineers | San Jose, CA
Structural Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | New Haven, CT
Assessment and Remediation Team Lead
American Society of Civil Engineers | Regina, SK
Professional Development Program Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Farmington Hills, MI
Assistant Professor - Water Resources/Ecological Engineering
American Society of Civil Engineers | Auburn, AL
Quality Systems Manager
American Society of Civil Engineers | Greensboro, NC
Rail Field Construction Inspector
American Society of Civil Engineers | Jacksonville, FL
Manager, Quality Assurance
American Society of Civil Engineers | Memphis, TN
Sr. Controls Systems Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Grand Island, NE
Quality Engineer
American Society of Civil Engineers | Attica, IN
Civil Engineering
American Society of Civil Engineers | Steamboat Springs, CO
Commissioning Intern
American Society of Civil Engineers | Chicago, IL
 
Comments
comments powered by Disqus