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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

Studies point to possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

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