A recent New York Times article reports that the fossil fuel industry is pumping money into TV ads and the Romney campaign in an attempt to unseat President Obama. The Democrats do not appear concerned because historically Republicans typically receive more campaign funding from the industry than Democrats, and currently Obama is polling well on energy policy.
A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that registered voters favor Obama over Romney 49% to 41% when asked which candidate they trust to do a better job handling energy policy. In a separate poll conducted by USA Today/Gallup, 53% of those surveyed preferred Obama’s energy plan, to 40% for Romney. Historically energy policy has always been considered strength of the Republican Party so this represents a notable shift in the country’s mindset.
Obama’s “all of the above” energy policy has been a mixed bag of results. Domestic oil and gas production has increased every year since he has been in office and the U.S. dependence on foreign oil has decreased every year. Natural gas prices are down. Obama raised the fuel efficiency standards for automobiles and trucks, and increasing the efficiency of those vehicles something that should have a lasting impact on climate change.
Critics of Obama’s energy policy point to increasing gas prices and the mixed results of his clean energy program as evidence that his policies are failing. Technically under Obama gas prices have doubled and despite the fact that Politifact found that Obama has little control over the price of gas, Consumer Energy Report noted if Obama is going to take credit for oil production and natural gas prices then he has to accept some blame for gas prices.
Obama has maintained firm commitment to clean and renewable energy and continues to invest in the technology. Despite high-profile failures like Solyndra, Obama boasts that investments in clean energy have saved or created over 250,000 jobs. Under the Obama administration the cost of wind turbines and solar panels have fallen, electricity from renewables has doubled and construction has begun on the first nuclear power plant since 1978.
Obama has faced down environmental critics by approving the start of the Keystone XL Pipeline, offshore deep-water drilling on the eastern Gulf of Mexico and the north coast of Alaska , and oil and natural gas drilling in Utah.
Obama’s most controversial policy has been on coal production. The administration is analyzing the environmental impact of extracting coal from public land. They say that greenhouse gas emissions are an important factor in analyzing coal extraction lease sales.
Obama’s all-of-the-above plan recognizes the need for fossil fuels during the interim decades required to build substantial clean energy.
The plan strongly supports further development of clean power, renewables and reduced carbon emissions. His decision to invest in this technology in lieu of “drill, baby, drill” appears to be what is spurring the rash of ads and funding from the fossil fuel industry.