Floridians Must Demand Energy Leadership from Our Next President
By Kevin Doyle
Consumer Energy Alliance-Florida
As the election nears, individuals and organizations interested in an affordable American energy supply are taking stock of the presidential candidates and seeking to understand how they would confront the new realities of U.S. energy policy. Annual household expenditures on gasoline stubbornly remain at an all-time high, and families across Florida want a solution.
Meanwhile, North America is awakening to a vibrant new energy future – a path toward energy self-sufficiency that is punctuated by new and greater onshore and offshore energy production as well as new technologies and practices that could transform the way we produce and consume all forms of energy.
Regardless of which presidential candidate takes the oath of office in January, American consumers will demand a proactive plan by our next President to lower gas prices, grow the economy and push for an energy self-sufficient future. Both candidates’ energy policies have some areas of common ground. They also have stark differences.
These differences mainly play out in the two candidates’ approach toward how the federal government influences domestic energy production. President Obama has declared his support for continuing development of our nation’s oil and natural gas resources, rightly pointing to the economic benefits as well as the capacity of natural gas to reduce our nation’s carbon emissions.
The President has made it clear his administration will continue to press for strict environmental protections on energy production, particularly for hydraulic fracturing and offshore drilling, and will favor stronger federal oversight rather than state-based management. The administration prefers incentivizing the production and use of renewable fuels and nuclear energy through tax credits, loan guarantees, research grants and, for biofuels, the federal Renewable Fuel Standard in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and oil imports. On the demand side, the President has finalized new corporate average fuel economy standards, requiring automakers to raise the average fuel efficiency to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
Governor Romney has also stated his support for domestic supplies of energy and shares President Obama’s support for natural gas and the federal Renewable Energy Standard for biofuels. In a difference from the President’s policies, however, he would reduce the promulgation of new regulations on energy production and eliminate duplicative rules, but would mostly transition this regulatory authority to the state level. State-led management would allow for regional differences and efficiencies, but it could also increase the complexity for companies operating in multiple states and unduly burden state budgets.
Governor Romney strongly supports the domestic production and utilization of coal without requiring electricity generation from coal to be mitigated by carbon capture and sequestration. He has also indicated he would approve the Keystone XL pipeline on the first day of his administration, whereas President Obama has instead preferred to wait until after the election to make a decision.
Should Republicans retain control of the House and Democrats hold the Senate, it may be difficult for any meaningful energy legislation to pass in the next two years, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office. It is likely that smaller legislative measures, including requisite funding for federal agencies, would pass, but a bipartisan movement to pass a comprehensive energy package is something too important for America’s economic and national security to be held hostage to partisanship.
For all Americans, and particular us in Florida, it is vitally important that the man elected President on Tuesday take a comprehensive approach to energy policy. All Floridians should demand that our next President prioritize the needs of energy consumers – our businesses and families who need access to reliable, affordable energy as well as a safe, healthy environment in order to prosper.
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Kevin Doyle is executive director of the Consumer Energy Alliance-Florida, the state affiliate of the national organization.
Contact: Kevin Doyle
Consumer Energy Alliance-Florida