Energy Plays Center Stage in 2012 Presidential Election

Energy issues have taken a central role in this 2012 Presidential election.   Given that energy encompasses our nation's concerns about the economy, the environment and our national security, this is not surprising.   

Van Ness Feldman, LLC has put together an excellent comparison of  the Obama Administration Agenda  vs. Governor Mitt Romney's  Energy Platform,   It is informative, thorough, and concise - something I would expect from the crackerjack team that makes up the Van Ness energy sector.  Click here to see how the Obama and Romney energy plans compare. 

Speaking of the energy and the 2012 campaign, The New York Times has an extensive article today about the positions President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney hold on the pressing energy issues before our country today.   The article points out that the irony of the current energy debate is that fossil fuels have eclipsed renewable energy technologies and climate in our national discussion.  Oil and shale gas drilling are reshaping the map of America.  As the President repeatedly points out, domestic oil production has been rising to the point where oil imports are now only 40% of domestic supplies - down from 60 % and domestic natural gas production has risen by 15% which has brought down the price of natural gas and resulted in plentiful cheap natural gas.  This has hindered the renewable industry and cut our consumption of coal.  Even so, electrical generation from wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass have expanded to 5.8% of our electricity - up from 31% since Obama took office - this is due in part to the stimulus package and tax incentives.  Romney trumps his 'energy independence' plan  which includes the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada and removing federal regulations on coal which he says will bring many U.S. jobs.  Romney has said he wants to expand state regulatory control over drilling and mining on federal lands.  In other words, Romney is following the fossil fuel talking points.

While Romney favors burning more coal, Obama would phase out coal fired electrical generation.  The NYT rightly points out that coal actually has a pretty bleak future in the U.S. - with or without a Presidential coal agenda.  The biggest difference between the two candidates is on coal.  Having said that, the fact is that coal as an energy source appears to be on a downward slide.  There are 600 coal plants in America and roughly a third of these plants are over 50 years old. According to many experts, these plants will be out of service within the next 20 years or so.  For the most part,  the new plants that will be built are  gas fueled plants which can produce electricity for less than one half what it costs to run a coal fired unit because of the huge amounts of natural gas.

Indeed, according to the New York Times, Romney's promise of more coal jobs is eclipsed by jobs generated by the natural gas industry. Drilling and support jobs have increased by nearly 25% since the first half of 2008 to nearly 200,000 jobs and this is in spite of our recession.  The average pay on these jobs are $34.50/hour.  According to the NYT, a refinery boom based on production of new oil and gas has made the U.S. a net exporter of refined petroleum for the first time since Truman.  There are plans to build several petrochemical plants on the Gulf of Mexico and the steel plants in the Midwest are adding shifts to build oil and gas pipelines.