As best as we can ascertain, the energy policy platforms of Obama and Romney diverge in three main ways:
- A planned vs. market energy economy,
- The importance of energy affordability, and
- Views on energy independence
Planned vs. free market energy economies
From his website to his speeches, it is clear that under Obama, voters can expect a planned energy economy in which a strong federal government seeks to pick and choose promising energy startups (particularly wind- and solar-based ventures) to fund.
While Obama has claimed to support an “ ” planned energy economy, he puts a particular emphasis on wind and
If Obama’s agenda represents a planned energy economy, Romney’s may be seen as a free-market model that offers greater freedom and flexibility to American industry. Throughout his campaign, Romney has capitalized on the failure of Solyndra and used the story as a starting place to discuss free enterprise. On May 31, for example, he held a press conference in front of Solyndra’s shuttered headquarters, :
Though Romney’s free-market agenda looks promising, a central concern for voters is whether or not he’ll stick to it. Recent criticism has been leveled against the candidate for flip-flopping on his energy views (particularly with regard to his stance on wind, solar, and coal) since his time as governor of Massachusetts, and of skewing his platform toward the far right to curry political favor with voters.
When it comes to creating an energy agenda that’s affordable, the candidates present policies voters might not expect. Obama has shown a willingness to push his planned energy agenda at any price, perhaps in an effort to attract wealthy donors more concerned with radical environmentalism than the economic repercussions of their preferred policies. A key example here is Obama’s stance on coal. In 2008, candidate Obama pledged to take action to dramatically reduce the use of coal, :
In contrast to Obama, Romney remains wary of higher energy prices and plans to unleash the free market as a prime means of cost containment by allowing already successful industries like drilling to flourish. As he :
Perhaps unsurprisingly, both candidates view energy independence as a way to decrease reliance on the Middle East. As Obama in a recent speech on energy independence:
However firmly both candidates may agree on this end, the means by which each plans to achieve this goal differ greatly. As has been explained, Obama relies on his planned economy to pick and choose winners that will help the United States remain at the forefront of energy independence, while Romney has faith in his free-market approach. The candidates also differ when discussing oil reserves—though Obama frequently cites the 2 percent statistic mentioned above, Romney emphasizes the fact that the United States has only 2 percent of the world’s known oil reserves. He :
The necessity for fast action on Keystone seems to be well understood by Romney, who his “approval of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day One.” Romney has repeatedly expressed his immense support for the project, as well as drilling opportunities in Mexico. His energy plan :
Kenneth P. Green is a resident scholar at the , where Elizabeth DeMeo is a research assistant.