Clean Power

Published on April 22nd, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Obama vs Romney on Energy (Chart)

April 22nd, 2012 by  

Rebecca Leber of Climate Progress has put together a good chart comparing Obama and Romney on energy policy and energy policy statements. While the text is sometimes a bit flavorful with its style of writing / presenting of the facts, the content is very useful for anyone who cares about energy matters.

Notably, Big Coal and Big Oil have already put over $16 million into ads attacking Obama — if that doesn’t tell you who’s more on the side of dirty energy and who’s more on the side of clean energy, hopeful the info below will.

Here’s the chart and a more detailed comparison of Obama and Romney on energy issues, also via Ms. Leber (the remainder of this post is reposted from Climate Progress):

Oil and gas production


  • Oil production reached its highest level in eight years last year. Between oil and gas drilling rigs, the United States now has more rigs at work than the rest of the world combined. Imports fell to lowest level in 16 years, under 50 percent of oil consumption. [White House, 3/12/12]
  • Raised safety standards for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, strengthening well design, testing, control equipment and workplace safety. The region was not hurt economically by a temporary moratorium, which has the same unemployment as two years ago and had rising personal income in 2011. [White House,3/30/12, NOLA, 4/15/12]
  • Crude oil production from federal lands and waters was higher in 2011 than any of the last three years of the Bush Administration. [Energy Information Administration,3/14/12]


  • Opens up the Florida portion of the Gulf of Mexico to new drilling, the Atlantic and Pacific Outer Continental Shelves, public lands, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Accelerates drilling permits. [, 2011]
  • Called the temporary moratorium on drilling in the Gulf following the Deepwater Horizon disaster “illegal.” [CBS News,3/9/12]


Big Oil Subsidies


  • Calls on Congress to end oil subsidies and to double down on clean energy investments. [White House, 3/28/2012]
  • Pledged to cut subsidies for oil, coal, and natural gas internationally, among G20 nations. [Economist,10/1/09


  • Romney’s plan cuts the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, but does not make specific mention of oil and gas loopholes which let oil companies pay much lower effective federal rates. [Mitt, 2011]
  • Romney has blasted Obama for wanting to close these loopholes for the industry, saying the president is increasing taxes. [, 3/4/12]
  • Asked directly in an interview about whether he is for or against subsidizing Big Oil, Romney responded: “I’m not sure precisely what big tax breaks we’re talking about.” [Fox News, 4/3/2012]
  • Romney supports the House Republican budget, which preserves the $40 billion in subsidies for the oil and gas industry. [Center for American Progress, 3/20/12]


Gas Prices


  • “There’s no silver bullet. Anybody who tells you otherwise isn’t really looking for a solution; they’re trying to ride the political wave of the moment.” [LA Times, 3/16/12]
  • Domestic oil production is at its highest level in eight years, but drilling has no correlation to gas prices, the Associated Press confirms. [AP, 3/22/12]
  • Rein in market oil speculators with more funding for market oversight and CFTC, increased penalties for illegal activity. Dodd-Frank financial reform includes rules on speculation [CNN, 4/17/12; Media Matters, 4/18/12]


  • “He’s now decided that gasoline prices should come down. The gas hike trio has been going in the other direction. Time for them to go, probably hand in their resignations if he’s really serious about that.” [Boston Globe, 3/19/12]
  • Calls to repeal Dodd Frank and opposes reining in Wall Street speculators, calling Obama’s move “gimmickry” [, 4/17/12]


Energy Efficiency


  • Finalizing new modern standards requiring cars and light-duty trucks to achieve an average fuel economy rating of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 — double the rate in 2010. These savings will cut U.S. oil use by 2.2 million barrels per day by 2025—a move that will save drivers $8,000 per vehicle due to fewer gasoline purchases compared to a 2010 car. [White House, 3/12/12]
  • Began the Better Buildings Initiative, which makes commercial facilities 20 percent more efficient by 2020. [NYT, 12/3/11]
  • Directed federal agencies to make $2 billion worth of energy efficiency upgrades in two years. [NYT,12/3/11]


  • Against raising standards for energy-efficient lighting, which was coauthored by Republicans and signed into law by President George W. Bush. “The government would have banned Thomas Edison’s light bulb,” Romney said. “Oh yeah, Obama’s regulators actually did.” [Huffington Post, 3/19/12]
  • Supports the House GOP Ryan budget, which would cut investments in energy efficiency by 20 percent in 2013. [, 3/19/12]


Public lands


  • Announced he would “allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power 3 million homes.” [1/24/12]
  • Signed a sweeping public lands bill in 2009 that designated two million acres of wilderness and three national parks. [AP,3/31/09]
  • Created a national monument of a Civil War-era Fort Monroe, Virginia, embracing the 1906 Antiquities Act. [National Trust For Historic Preservation, 11/1/11]


  • Romney said “I haven’t studied […] what the purpose is of” public lands. But he finds it unacceptable when conservation is “designed to satisfy, let’s say, the most extreme environmentalists, from keeping a population from developing their coal, their gold, their other resources for the benefit of the state.” [McClatchy, 2/16/12]
  • Fully embraced the House Republican budget from Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), calling it “bold and brilliant.” It sells off 3.3 millions of acres of national parks and public lands. [ThinkProgress, 3/21/12]


Global Warming


  • “I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But here’s the thing — even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy-efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future -– because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy.” [White House, 1/27/10]
  • State Department is leading a group of countries in a program that cuts global warming pollutants like soot, methane and hydrofluorocarbons. [NYT, 2/16/2012]
  • Issued the first ever carbon pollution rules for power plants, affecting new coal-fired power plants. [NPR, 3/27/12]


  • Doesn’t believe carbon pollution is a threat, reversing his stance as governor: “I don’t think carbon is a pollutant in the sense of harming our bodies.” [Politico, 7/18/11]
  • “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.” [CBS, 10/28/2011]
  • Says the Clean Air Act doesn’t apply to carbon emissions: “My view is that the EPA in getting into carbon and regulating carbon has gone beyond the original intent of that legislation, and I would not take it there,” [Politico, 7/18/11]


Air Pollution From Power Plants


  • Unveiled historic rules that limit harmful mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants. The initiative prevents 11,000 premature deaths and 4,700 heart attacks a year, and 130,000 cases of childhood asthma symptoms [EPA, 12/21/11]


  • ‘Aggressively” develop all our coal sources. “Coal is America’s most abundant energy source. We have reserves that—at current rates of uses—will last for the next 200 years of electricity production in an industry that directly employs perhaps 200,000 workers. [NYT, 4/3/12]
  • Against new EPA regulations of harmful mercury and air pollutants from coal: “I think the EPA has gotten completely out of control for a very simple reason. It is a tool in the hands of the president to crush the private enterprise system, to crush our ability to have energy, whether it’s oil, gas, coal, nuclear.” [The Hill, 12/5/11]


Fuel efficient cars


  • New modern standards require cars and some trucks to achieve an average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. This cuts U.S. oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels of oil per day by 2025, saving Americans $1.7 trillion and cuts carbon pollution. [White House, 11/17/11]
  • Set a goal that by 2015 there would be 1 million electric vehicles on the road. [White House, 3/12/12]


  • Disparaged the Chevrolet Volt as “an idea whose time has not come” and “I’m not sure America was ready for the Chevy Volt.” [Michigan Live, 12/23/11, MSNBC 4/5/12]
  • Against fuel efficiency standards, calling it “disadvantageous for domestic manufacturers.” [WJR Radio, 2/23/12]
  • Advocates ending federal loan program helping companies develop and produce efficient cars. [Orange Country Register, 10/24/11]


Clean energy


  • “I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy. I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here.” [State of the Union, 1/24/12]
  • Transforming the Pentagon into a clean energy operation, reducing the military’s dependence on fossil fuels that cost the Pentagon up to $20 billion annually. Investing in hybrid batteries. [National Journal, 4/11/12]


  • “You can’t drive a car with a windmill on it.” [ThinkProgress, 3/6/2012]
  • Endorses the Ryan House Republican budget, which gives a 60 percent funding increase to coal, oil, and natural gas, while it decreases funding for research on vehicle batteries and solar projects, and loans for fuel-efficient cars. [Politico, 4/17/12]
  • Against the government promoting clean energy, though supports tax loopholes for oil: “Let’s pretend for a moment that [Solyndra] didn’t go bankrupt. Let’s just pretend it was successful … When he picks one [business] that the government gets behind with $500 million, the investments in all the others disappear, because no one wants to compete with the government.” [The Hill, 12/20/11]


Green Jobs


  • Historic level of investment in clean energy, a sector now with 3.1 million Americans employed. In 2008, Obama promised to create 5 million green jobs. [AP, 3/22/12]


  • Repeatedly called green jobs fake, for example calling them “illusory” in an op-ed. “[Obama] keeps talking about green jobs, where are they?” [OC Register, 10/11, League of Conservation Voters, 9/15/11]
  • Against renewable energy production credits, which risks the end of 37,000 jobs, according to a figure from Navigant Consulting [Chicago Tribune, 2/17/12]

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • Kirk

    Nice try, Just another Obama campaign attempt from an Obamabot.
    What I do know about Obama is scary to say the least. What has been so carefully hidden from everyone about Obama is downright frightening.
    Stick to reporting the new innovations please.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “What I do know about Obama is scary to say the least.”

      My guess is that you suck up the disinformation from Fox and Rush.

      Try some objective sources. You’re risking being perpetually incorrect….

      • Kirk

        NO, I don’t watch Fox news and I don’t listen to Rush. Try opening your eyes to the truth about this man.
        I was fooled in 2008, I will not be tricked again in 2012.

  • Todd dillon

    This is so one sided and very shallow.

  • Justyn_tyme_sol

    No, this isn’t bias in any manner. Just another puffer piece for the Obama campaign.

  • Rick

    One more politically biased piece of BS. The free market and capitalistic minded entrepreneurs have been creating the new energy market in response to high oil prices. This will work if the federal government just gets out of the way.

    Obama believes that if you sap the money from one piece of the economy and distribute it to another you create jobs. Not so. They merely take money out of one pocket and put it into another. (Better known as Socialism) The government has no business picking the winners and the losers. And YOU should stick to what you do best. Showcasing new technology that will reduce our use of carbon based fuels.

    • ThomasGerke

      Well… like it or not, the energy system right now is based on a few entities taking money out of many pockets and concentrating wealth & income without free market forces at work. Unless of course you believe that the fossil fuel market is a working free market, despite the fact that world market prices are decided by the King of Saudi Arabia & the Kremlin/Gazprom in Moscow.

      In every country where the government has passed laws that enable many people to invest in clean energy by taking a little money out of many pockets, this has created a dynamic investment driven technology market. => Jobs.

      You use the “socialism” as if it’s a knock-out argument, against political decisions made by the democratic institutions of your federal, state or local governments.
      But you fail to recognize that the fossil/nuclear energy system and the multi-national corporations & state-owned enterprises that dominate the “market”, are dictating prices & supply like the Politburo of the Soviet Union. What do you think OPEC does when they decide that $120 / barrel is just fine for the next 5 years… do you really think that the US could offset the price effect of 80% of the world oil producers lowering / increasing their supply?
      Do you really think that a little drill baby drill & “Fuck the Enviroment” from your puny federal government could challange this?

      I am more inclinded to put my trust in the hands of millions of fellow citizens becoming energy producers, which would democratize the energy market and create the basic requirements of a free market system… choose your poisen, but democracy & individual independence were never the road to socialism / facism.
      But I guess you would rather put your trust in the patriotism of Exxon Mobile & the King of Saudi Arabia.

      • Rick


        First, I am not defending OPEC or any other type of cartel. Of course, they reduce the competitiveness of the free markets.

        However, OPEC is outside the control of US policy and I am discussing our political intervention in US markets. Further, while OPEC does obviously increase the price we pay for oil, in the long run, free markets will prevail. I am old enough to remember back to the creation of this cartel following the Arab oil embargo of the 80’s. Eventually, free markets prevailed, oil dropped in price and the world was awash in cheap oil. I believe that this will happen again and it will be hastened by the very technology championed by this blog.

        Secondly, it is pretty well accepted by economists that removing capital from one sector in the form of taxes and returning it to another in the form of subsidies does not create net jobs. It merely helps favored or less efficient industries at the expense of more successful ones. And, yes, moving capital from the private sector to the public is Socialism.

        Finally, I am not defending subsidies to oil companies or nuclear power any more than for wind or solar. Historically, the government has been pretty awful at picking winners and losers. You can hold up Exxon and I could hold up Solyndra. Neither deserved subsidies.

        • ThomasGerke

          Thanks for the reply. I am sorry for replying with guns blazing before. 😉

          I think that often times fundamental realities of the current energy market missing in the “Anti-Government / Free Energy Market”-debate. Especially when people swing the “socialism” namecalling thingy. What’s missing:
          (1)The socialisation of external costs by fossil energy sources in form of air, water and soil polution => leading to damages in other industries, property & health of private individuals that should be protected under the law. That’s a direct subsidy by society leading to record profits and a sign of market failure. Less law (regulation / government) won’t solve that.

          (2)Valueing privatized profits above individual rights(health & property), that’s not the free market nor capitalism AND especially not democratic. That’s a sign of a mobster-economy in which society has to pay the dealers and keep quite in order to be supplied with the essential good of energy.

          (3) The history of how the system & the corporations that dominate it came into existance. Huge powerplants, powerlines,…everything was build with public funds decades / centuries ago… then it was privatized (taken from the public). And throughout this process of concentrating power & controll over the energy sector, the corporations profitedfrom (1) & (2). In the begining of industrialization this process destroyed thousends of small & medium power producers. A massive distortion of the market.

          (4)Broken & distorted energy market is failing across the board… and the companies that dominate it are to heavily invested in this failure to correct the failure. Often times renewables are already cheaper for communities & individuals. But their application is not profitable to the utility that just build a coal power plant.
          Should that utility have the right to prevent independent producers of wind power access to the grid? A grid that was build with tax payer funds?

          At the end it’s a question about responsibility & beliving in democracy. And democracy is not an economic system.
          Should government (partly responsible for breaking the energy market) stand idle, while the consequences of this failure threaten the safty & well being of the citizens & the entire nation? Should the government of a democratic republic reject any responsibility for shaping the future of a nation?

          The free market is an idealized concept that requires many preconditions in order to function. It doesn’t magically come into existance by removing laws that curtail the power of corporations & protect individual freedoms & rights.

          • I was going to write a much simpler reply along these sames lines,… and well, guess i’ll still tag that on.

            1) the ideal of a ‘free market’ is rather absurd — you learn that in any econ 101 class — at least, i did. as you say, there are many preconditions required for a ‘free market’, and we don’t come close to having those.
            2) the role of the govt is very much to step in and fix market failures to make the market act more like an ‘idealized free market’. for example, as you state, it should correct for social costs not internalized by industry (i.e. societal health, environmental, and energy security costs).

            3) the whole idea that any form of tax on industry for the greater good is socialism is absurd. people throw around the terms socialism and free market like they’re black & white. doing step #2 above is not socialism. (also, notably, the countries with the highest quality of life in the world are several times more ‘socialistic’ than the US — but many in the US never even learn that.)

            4) lastly, as you throw in here, subsidizing decentralized (some say democratized) electricity generation helps to break up monopolies and address market failures from those. hardly a tendency away from the free market.

    • Well, 1st, where’s the BS? Every statement is referenced with at least one quote.

      2nd: when fossil fuel companies are making record profits and sitting on tons and tons and tons of free cash, redirecting subsidies from them to clean energy should not cost jobs. As profits have risen, actually, jobs in the FF sector have been cut — why? The FF companies have plenty of money, and by simple logic presented by the likes of Romney, they should have been hiring for years, not laying people off.

    • wahlink

      “The government has no business picking the winners and the losers. And YOU should stick to what you do best. Showcasing new technology that will reduce our use of carbon based fuels”…

      … yet it seems that for the last century the govt has been picking winners. Oil, nuclear and coal all have been heavily subsidized for several generations and either we get rid of subsidies altogether to give alternative fuels a fighting chance or we subsidize alternative fuels just like any other fuel source. Conservatives need to make up their minds on whether they want to subsidize energy or not because on one hand they say no subsidies to alternative energy but on the other they are all for continuing to subsidize fossil fuels. The Ryan house proposal is just one more example of this hypocrisy.

  • Jeremygerardi

    Although I’m for cutting excesive redtape and prolonged construction permits, I feel Romney will cut too much regulation while having smaller staffs. This has happened in Canada and they want new major progects to be capped at 2 years. You can’t expect the department to do more with less people. If anything you need more people and thats how you fast track.

  • jenniemae007

    What B.S.

    • what do you mean? the quotes?

      • Kyle Todd

        Just remember, facts don’t matter to everyone Zachary!

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