A cleaner political race - The Echo News
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A cleaner political race

BY: Kyle Carruthers, Copy Editor & Staff Writer

Published: Sept. 7, 2012

As November approaches, presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney race to convince the American public their U.S. energy goals are most viable.

Romney announced that if he is elected, his plan will make North America energy independent by 2020 through partnerships with Canada and Mexico and increased drilling in Alaska and other oil rich areas, according to his official campaign website.

Control would be given to states to handle leasing of land to energy corporations.

Romney predicted his energy plan will create three million new jobs, significant for the more than 8 percent of Americans who are currently unemployed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Obama’s plan, which Forbes described as an “all of the above” answer to the energy question, is to diversify the U.S. energy system with renewable resources and increase the use of natural gas, according to the president’s website.

The long-term goal is to have the U.S. using 80 percent renewable or clean energy by 2035. Tax cuts would be renewed for companies researching and developing safe and secure wind power. Industry standards for efficient vehicles and homes would continue to be set.

The president’s report on energy goals supported increasing the cost of leasing land to encourage oil companies to develop land they have already leased instead of buying more. The report estimated about 63 percent of land leased to energy companies is inactive in oil production.

Critics of this report point out that viable oil is not found everywhere. They say the report failed to take into account land where oil had been found but where progress was stalled by federal bureaucracy.

“Throughout the pre-leasing, leasing, exploration, drilling, and production processes, companies have to apply for more than 15 permits and comply with more than 90 sets of federal regulations,” said Robert Bradley Jr., CEO of the Institute for Energy Research, in a Forbes op-ed.

Romney’s plan says since state approval happens in a matter of days, allowing state control would free the system and increase for energy independence.

Critics of the Romney plan argue that although North America has significant fossil fuel reserves, the accessibility of these resources would be an obstacle.

The Romney plan quotes Leonardo Maugeri, senior fellow at the Harvard University Geopolitics of Energy project, as saying, “The Western Hemisphere could return to a pre-World War II status of theoretical oil self-sufficiency, and the United States could dramatically reduce its oil import needs.”

But The Washington Post reported Romney left out a key portion of Maugeri’s statements: “However, quasi oil self-sufficiency will neither insulate the United States from the rest of the global oil market (and world oil prices), nor diminish the critical importance of the Middle East to its foreign policy.”

Obama’s plan is a continuation of many of the policies he pushed for during his first term, but with more of an emphasis on natural gas. Romney’s plan would undo many of the changes Obama made.

Since Obama took office in 2009, U.S. oil imports decreased by 2.6 million barrels. More than 28 onshore renewable energy projects were approved, and the U.S. has nearly doubled its renewable energy generation.

As of 2011, U.S. electricity production was 42 percent coal, 25 percent natural gas, 19 percent nuclear, 13 percent renewable resources and 1 percent petroleum, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The Obama administration also approved the first nuclear plant in more than three decades, which will provide energy to more than 1.4 million people. Obama created incentives for businesses that promoted efficiency.

But some believe the incentives were ineffective.

“When the federal government invests money to promote private-sector efficiency spending, these are likely investments businesses would have made regardless,” said Nicolas Loris, a policy analyst at the Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, in a Heritage Foundation blog. “Using taxpayer dollars merely offsets a part of that investment.”

The future of U.S. energy faces two radically different paths, and it will play a larger role in the upcoming election process as one of two futures is decided.

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