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Published on September 23rd, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Romney–Obama Energy Policy Differences Clear as Day

September 23rd, 2012 by  

There’s one clear reason why we cover politics the way we do here on CleanTechnica — one side is dead-set on promoting dirty energy while it stifles clean energy. Here’s an extended excerpt from a good, recent post on sister site The Inspired Economist on this matter:

Dr. Steven Chu

One surefire way to understand policy direction is to look at the people those candidates appoint to offices that are not just talking heads, but actual “rubber hits the road” decision makers. Nowhere is this distinction more clear than in the energy sector.

President Obama’s Energy Secretary is Dr. Steven Chu. Chu is a Nobel Prize winning physicist, headed the Lawrence Berkeley Lab, and has taught physics at Stanford. One of his main accomplishments in his four years as Energy Secretary include creating a requirement that new appliances decrease or eliminate the amount of vampire power they use (energy used while plugged in but not turned on–about 15% of the total energy used, and a total waste). Chu has also written and directed policy aimed at improving the nation’s electricity grid, something that most scholars believe can help change the landscape for allowing more renewables, and better decisions by energy users to decrease their consumption–and their bills. He has also actively promoted weather stripping, caulking and other energy efficiency measures, and pushed for tax incentives for these programs. (Editor’s note: he’s also implemented some great programs to bring down solar and wind power costs.)

In contrast, Republican Candidate Mitt Romney’s energy advisor to this point is Harold Hamm, CEO of an oil services company, who lobbied aggressively in front of congress to maintain the $4.1 billion in subsidies that taxpayers give to oil companies every year.

With both candidates saying that the election couldn’t be a clearer choice for the direction of the country, I’d have to say, I agree entirely. When it comes to energy policy, we have an extremely clear choice.

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About the Author

Zach is tryin’ to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the 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 and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada.

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. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don’t jump to conclusions.

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  • Pn1010

    I assume Captivation is willing to be part of the downshift and sit on the unemployed sideline until “sustainable technology catches up.”

    • Captivation

      I am proud (too proud actually) of being one of many green tech designers. I have never sat on the sideline of any real game. However, many people are caught up in imaginary pursuits that are simply about ego. I strongly encourage people to downshift these parts of their lives.

  • Captivation

    Its painful to see people making election decisions based on economic growth when we all know that some types of growth need to be curtailed until sustainable technology catches up.
    Once our plastic is made from soybeans and our electricity is made from sunlight, we will be free to ramp up production. But until that point we need to find some way to downshift.

    • I wold disagree we to accelerate growth; BUT in the correct areas. For instance, US gov commit to 50% green power by 2020%, not it isn’t saying the whole nation (which we should have a standard for but …). Drop the >$4 billion we give oil, plus the money give to coal. And use that to train vets to do the following at government buildings: military that we are going to keep (need to close a bunch), Fed and state government buildings, include public schools, national parks.
      – Energy efficiency in building.
      – Cold/heat storage in buildings; to move peak demand.
      – Solar panel on roofs/parking.
      – Agree to by $500 Million of site locatable energy storage made in US that is below $x dollars a kwhr. Addition $500 million below 0.75x, $1 Billion below 0.5*x. We can debate what x is. This is like the X price approach except it allows for multiple winners.

      Could list more but have to run, maybe a post coming. Add your thoughts.

      • Captivation

        Assuming its 1965 and President LBJ has just given his warning of Climate Change, I agree with you. But if we somehow got to 2012 without any taking any action, then I think it would be time to downsize and let the smarter nations provide leadership.

        • Matthew

          Very interesting you mention smarter nations. Germany has often led the world in innovation. Our highway system was inspired by Germany’s. In the wars they were able to mobilize their troops much faster then anyone else, and so after the wars we decided to do the same with our country.
          Today Germany leads the world as well. They have more installed solar then the rest of Europe combined. 20% of their energy comes from solar. Above and beyound that, their economy is one of the strongest in the world right now. 11% of their GDP comes from renewable energies, and if the United States followed suit, on a per capita basis we could expect to produce around 4 to 5 MILLION new jobs as well as bring manufacturing back to the United States.
          I couldn’t agree more with your statement, we should let smarter nations provide leadership, thank you for your vote of approval!

    • Bob_Wallace

      If by downshift you mean conserve, I agree.

      Efficiency and conservation is something that should be forefront in our move off fossil fuels. Each drop of oil and each watt of electricity we can save is one we won’t have to replace with new generation.

      • Captivation

        We’re a bit further along the CO2 curve than mere conservation can handle. We’re going to need to reduce the metabolic rate of the entire economy while we wait for clean tech to catch up. I’m willing to bet that next year’s meat consumption is lower than this year’s. (Actually I don’t need to bet, its already baked in the cake.)

        • Bob_Wallace

          We kill the climate change monster with a thousand small cuts.

          Conservation is one of them. Conservation and efficiency reduce the amount of fossil fuel generation we need to replace.

          I do not agree that we need to or could cool off the economy in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. To the contrary, we need to heat up the economy and put a lot of people to work installing wind, solar, geothermal, tidal and storage.

          We can grow the hell out of our economies for the next 20+ years by replacing fossil fuel generation and liquid fuel transportation.

          We will end up with a cleaner environment, which save us money, and with much cheaper electricity and transportation which will make future goods cheaper.

          • Captivation

            Our compasses are both pointing North. Mine might be off a bit to the East, and yours might be off a bit to the West. But the journey is still a shared one.

          • Matthew

            Completly agree with this. Is there a chance you would be receptive to better facts, more updated facts. Developments in Germany have proved most of our (including mine) perceptions wrong on how well renewable energy does work. If you subscribe to this newsletter you will also see the latest and greatest information on the subjects important to our prosperity and success. Maybe a better way to approach some of this is to question if rather than say it can’t. And then let others answer how.
            What do you think?

        • Matthew

          1/3 of our food is completly wasted in this country, so if we just stopped letting our food go bad we could save 33% on food costs alone with one simple change in our approach.
          Similarly, Ford Motor company found that just by turning off thier computers at the end of the day they save over a Million dollars a year in unnecessary electric bills. They only thing that is needed to accomplish that task is to turn off your pc and your monitor(s).
          There have been stories about how the Empire state building has invested millions in energy efficiency, and in the first year or two those efforts are paying off and justifiying the expenses with the rewards overshadowing the costs.
          In my MBA program we learned that it is better to eliminate waste then it is to increase sales (all things equal). This is because increased sales include increased costs. Whereas decreased cost, 100% of that goes directly to the bottom line.
          Billions in waste is baked into our way of life. Choosing to be more receptive to waste means we can spend more of our hard earned money on more enjoyable things.
          Having clearly articulated why your assumption is lacking any real facts is quite enjoyable for me. I really look forward to more conversations with you.

    • Matthew

      Hey there Captivation,
      Every form of energy since fire has required government intervention to get to profitability, including oil and, always nuclear.
      Germany right now produces 20% of their countries energy from green sources; and at times they burst past 50% of their energy needs. So when you suggest that renewable energy is not ready for utility scale, you clearly are operating on knowledge that is at least 5 to 10 years old.
      There are entire towns in germany produceing 100% + and some going to as much as 321% of their energy needs from renewable sources.
      If you could I would like to understand where or from what time period you presume that renewable energies aren’t ready.

      • Captivation

        Hi Matthew, thanks for your kind comments elsewhere on this site. I completely agree that renewable energies are essential. My point is that they aren’t being installed fast enough to curtail progressively worse climate change. Thus, parts of the economy will need to slow down. This slowdown won’t be permanent. The ramp up to the next great expansion will be in 2030 when the carbon economy is vanquished. Thanks again, and feel free to send a link to your newsletter or give me some keywords to Google for it. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

  • Stan S

    What should we call it, when politicians, who regularly deal with “big money” and coporations, conduct themselves as if the inplimentation of renewable power sources are a lab experiment, who’s viabilities are still in the catagory of abusing lab rats, and alchemy?
    Obama, well, he had a secondary agenda it seems, to thwart the progress of solar, by souring the public with Solyndra’s failure….remember, he was advised by both parties NOT to give them the money/”loan”…..to have a growing renewable power sector, is analogous to continually diminish the volume of oil we buy from the middle east…..his secret constituents…..and Romney, in another way….one in which he’s doin’ the “Good ‘Ol Boy” thing with the oil companies….
    Honestly….if Europe, Australia, China and other major players are rapidly growing their renewable portfolios, with excellent results…..why are we not pressuring Romney to remodel his stance of these issues? Personally, I am getting nthe feeling he’s taking a dive.

    • Bob_Wallace

      “Obama, well, he had a secondary agenda it seems, to thwart the progress of solar, by souring the public with Solyndra’s failure….”

      Oh, Stan, that’s so very stupid.

      Do you not know that Solyndra was mainly a Bush-era project and was viewed by all as a promising way to bring down the cost of installed solar?

      Put pressure on Romney to flip in your direction if you wish. You can count on him to flop to a new direction as soon as someone else puts some pressure on him.

      Expecting Romney to do the right thing for the right reason is as hopelessly dumb as believing the right-wing Solyndra lies.

  • Even though there is a stark difference between the two main political parties on the energy issue there are other problems with both parties that will make voting this November more difficult (personally) than in any previous election. For it’s energy stance alone I will not be able to vote for even one Republican this fall. For his other failures I will not be able to vote for the Prez this round. So it’ll be Jill for prez and democrats for the house and senate. Hopefully the Dems will fight for a sane energy policy but I’m not expecting much. It appears that we will have to tackle this problem individually and in groups at the local level as the government has exposed itself for what it is, a hindrance rather than a help.

    • Bob_Wallace

      ” For his other failures I will not be able to vote for the Prez this round. ”

      Yep, PBO failed to end the war in Iraq. He failed to get rid of DADT. He failed to bring a massive increase in gas mileage efficiency. He failed to extend hate crime coverage to gays. He failed to get health insurance for the 40 million Americans who had none. He failed to fund renewable energy. He failed to put government science back in the hands of science. He failed to close the dirtiest of our coal plants.

      I can see why with a list of failures like that you would want to help elect Mitt Romney. We know that Mitt will extend our personal freedoms by opposing the right to choose. And he’ll grow our economy by cutting his own taxes. And he’ll fix our environmental problems by supporting the coal industry, drilling more oil wells, building oil pipelines and all sorts of cool stuff.

      Party on, dude! Mount your mule and charge that coal plant on your own.

    • Matthew

      Hey Edward,
      I am a registered Republican and I agree with most of your statements. I was wondering if you would reconsider Obama? I believe he is human just like the rest of us and therefore prone to learning experiences. I also know, because I am an avid Cleantechnica reader, and because my favorite articles are what is happening with Germany that when we decide to embrace renewables like Germany has, that we will be able to grow our local tax revenues dramatically while increasing our jobs as well. Obama is committed to this effort as you are already aware. Having him in office at his level helps our efforts tremendously. Look, as a Republican I would prefer to vote that way (Where is Reagan when we need him.) but at the same time, our local efforts for renewables don’t hardly compare to a the efforts of a President. It would really be meaningful if you would reconsider; if not for yourself, for the greater good of our economic prosperity. And if that isn’t enough, please consider life on this planet.
      Regardless, thank you for using your God given brain to think for yourself!

  • Ross

    There’s no intrinsic reason why the GOP have to be so pro-dirty energy. The voters just have to help them move into the new paradigm of cleaner energy.

    • sort of.

      oil & gas contributions to GOP in 2012: Oil & Gas
      $11,487,242to Democrats: less than $2,900,000 (not on this list: http://www.opensecrets.org/parties/indus.php?cmte=DPC&cycle=2012)

      • Ross

        This is where I get cynical but I see in due course green energy buying the support of the GOP. At that stage I expect Cleantechica will be Cleanertechnica and the fight for progress will go on hopefully with a bit less than climate disaster at stake.

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