In the previous segment of this story, we discussed how U.S. political debate has shifted from issues of lasting consequence to short-term, relatively parochial concerns. The drift especially affects our nation’s energy and environmental future, and by extension, that of the global population.
At this point in time, President Obama is taking an “all of the above” approach to energy. He has proposed using all the resources currently available, with some environmental restraints. He remains the strongest champion of renewable energy sources. We discussed the president’s perspective in part 1 of this series. Now for his Republican challengers, in alphabetical order.
Three-term Minnesota congresswoman and founder and current chair of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus, Bachmann has tended to move toward the right in this campaign. This past summer she said that as president she would bring the price of gasoline down below $2 a gallon.
Bachmann’s energy strategy focuses on expanding drilling of hydrocarbon resources, reducing production costs of traditional energy by cutting down regulations, opening up environmentally fragile areas such as the tundra of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and fast-tracking natural gas by fracking shale.
Conversely, as a member of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, Bachmann has also introduced legislation to speed tax depreciation on renewable energy production. Her campaign website characterizes her as “working to raise awareness and educate lawmakers on technologies to improve energy efficiency and explore alternative forms of energy.” She has also said that if she wins the election, the EPA will have its “doors locked and lights turned off.”
Speaker of the House until 1999, Newt Gingrich believes in climate change and supports the cap-and-trade principle. He also vows to remove bureaucratic and legal obstacles to petroleum development, kill the ban on shale oil development in the West, remove the gas tax, and eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency in favor of an “Environmental Solutions Agency.”
Gingrich sees an entrepreneurial, free-market approach as the best way to protect the environment. He voted for and continues to support ethanol subsidies. He also favors incentives for renewable energy and conservation. In a tantalizing and original suggestion, Gingrich supports transitioning to cleaner energy technologies by financing green energy research with oil and gas royalties.
Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah and U.S. ambassador to China, finds it ironic that “America is drowning in energy resources, yet every year we send $300 billion–half our trade deficit–overseas for oil.”
Huntsman wants to open up transportation to non-petroleum fuels, including electricity, coal-to-liquids, and compressed natural gas. He supports increased domestic oil production, construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and more hydraulic fracturing for natural gas production.
Huntsman believes in climate change and supports cap-and-trade. He wants to remove all energy subsidies for individual companies and favors investing in basic energy research.
A 75-year-old physician and Texas congressman, Ron Paul favors the energy free market. His approach favors libertarian ideology. Paul promises to cut regulations that impede energy production and lower taxes on energy production. He believes that reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil will improve the domestic economy and simplify foreign policy issues.
Paul opposes energy subsidies but supports tax credits. He views ethanol mandates as “corporate welfare for big agriculture.” He uses a similar argument to criticize the government’s cap on oil spill liability, stating that the burden of massive mistakes like last year’s Gulf of Mexico spill should not be on the taxpayers. Paul also claims that the EPA is constitutionally illegitimate.
Formerly a Democrat and Al Gore supporter, Rick Perry emphasizes both national energy security and job creation. By opening more land to petroleum exploration and increasing domestic sources of energy, Perry aims to create 1.2 million jobs.
“We need to get a president of the United States that is committed to passing the types of regulations, pulling the regulations back, freeing this country to go develop the energy industry that we have in this country,” Perry says.
His website claims success as governor of Texas in diversifying the state’s energy mix, which helps lower prices. Perry opposes both subsidies and cap and trade legislation. His stance on the EPA is unclear, although he has referred to the agency as a cemetery for jobs.
Mitt Romney has been described as a “liberal turned conservative turned moderate former venture capitalist.” His views on climate change and cap and trade have shifted accordingly. He has been gentler on EPA than his fellow Republicans.
Romney says that the traditional energy sector–oil, gas, coal, and nuclear–has a remarkable potential for creating jobs. He’s bullish on domestic oil production and shale development. He proposes strengthening ties with Canada, Mexico, and the European Union to develop these resources and reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.
At home, Romney wants to “preserve environmental gains without paralyzing industry.” He supports ethanol subsidies. He would loosen the environmental restrictions on coal and nuclear plants to help achieve this. In addition to backing the Keystone XL pipeline, Romney advocates building yet more pipelines to accommodate expected future development of Canadian tar sands.
Rick Santorum, former two-term Pennsylvania senator and grandson of an Italian immigrant coal miner, advocates “an all-of-the-above energy policy that uses oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy to power our economy and empower the American worker.” This would include drilling in the Arctic, coal mining, and further oil and gas development.
Santorum supports deregulation and opposes policies supporting development of alternative fuels, including ethanol, which he views as now being capable of standing on its own.
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