News / USA

Obama, Romney Differ on Energy Policy

President Obama and Governor Romney agree that the U.S. is too dependent on foreign oil.  But their views differ significantly on how to reduce or even end that dependence to make the country energy self-sufficient.

President Obama has been a champion of expanding renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, which he says hold great promise.

Mitt Romney is a proponent of raising production levels of America's own fossil fuels, including coal, which the U.S. has in abundance.

The Center for Climate and Energy solutions published a voter guide to the candidates' energy policy positions.  

"I think Governor Romney has focused more on supply, particularly of conventional fuels such as oil and coal," notes Manik Roy, vice president for the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.  "President Obama, while I think he's also interested in supply - we saw the back and forth in the second  debate on drilling - President Obama in addition has focused on clean energy technologies and reducing demand for oil."

The two candidates debated whose policy was more effective in reducing America's dependence on foreign oil.  The protection and creation of jobs was another key issue, in a slow economic recovery with unemployment near eight percent.

"We've also got to look to the future," said Obama at the November 17 debate.  "That's why we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars. That means that in the middle of the next decade, any car you buy, you're going to end up going twice as far on a gallon of gas. That's why we've doubled clean energy production like wind and solar and biofuels. And all these things have contributed to us lowering our oil imports to the lowest levels in 16 years.  We've got potentially 600,000 jobs and a hundred years' worth of energy right beneath our feet with natural gas. And we can do it in an environmentally sound way."

At that same debate Mitt Romney countered that while renewable energy sources are helpful, the United States needs to full exploit is full fossil energy potential.

"But what we don't need is to have the president keeping us from taking advantage of oil, coal and gas. This [president] has not been Mr. Oil or Mr. Gas or Mr. Coal. Talk to the people that are working in those industries. I was in coal country. People grabbed my arms and say, please, save my job. The head of the EPA said, you can't build a coal plant.  If we do what I am planning on doing, which is getting us energy-independent - North American energy independence within eight years - you're going to see manufacturing jobs come back because our energy is low-cost."

According to the Department of Energy, the U.S. imported less than half of the petroleum it consumed last year, down from 60 percent 6 years ago.

Gasoline consumption has dropped to its lowest level in ten years.  Production of U.S. oil rose during the Obama administration, but not as much as Governor Romney would like.

President Obama postponed approval of extending the Keystone pipeline from Canada, requiring more environmental impact studies.  Governor Romney blames rising U.S. gas prices on that delay.

So what influence does any president have on production and gas prices in a global oil market?

"On the creation of energy, the drilling of oil - I think it's relatively limited," added Roy.  "That happens largely in the private market, it happens largely in an international market.  We have a small fraction of the world's energy reserves here.  Even if we greatly expanded it [production], it would be a drop in the global bucket."  

In the last five years, advances in hydraulic fracturing technology have revealed an abundance of natural gas in the U.S.  Production has surged, and costs have plummeted.

Fracturing now produces nearly as much electricity as coal at lower cost.  Both President Obama and Governor Romney support exploiting this vast resource, despite environmental risks.

The candidates differ over the portion of renewable resources should have in the United States' energy mix.  President Obama has spent $90 billion in grants and loan guarantees for clean energy companies.  Obama also wants Congress to extend tax credits for wind energy, while Governor Romney does not.

"The president is more activist in promoting future technologies," noted Roy.  "I think the governor would love to see future technologies done as well too, but he has a more limited view of the appropriate role of the federal government, which would be to invest in research and development rather than deployment.  The president says research and development, but deployment also."  
 
So what do people want?  According to some polls, says Roy, they want it all: low prices, jobs, self-sufficiency, and respect for the environment.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid