Daniel J. Weiss and Jackie Weidman, Center for American Progress
September 28, 2012
Clean energy is an important part of the economy of Colorado, which is the location of the first presidential debate on October 3rd.
Colorado’s robust wind industry and 70,000 jobs in green goods and services could suffer if the Production Tax Credit for wind isn’t extended by the end of 2012. The presidential candidates differ on this, as well as other energy issues. Hopefully the Denver debate, scheduled to focus on the economy, will also address energy policies so vital to Colorado and the nation.
The United States is in the midst of significant changes in our energy outlook. We are producing and burning more natural gas for electricity, while reducing coal use. Domestic oil production is at a 15-year high while oil imports are at a 15-year low. Renewable electricity doubled over the past four years, while worldwide carbon pollution and the impacts of climate change grow. The next president will face these and other serious challenges posed by a changing energy world.
President Barack Obama’s first term featured the adoption of essential toxic and carbon pollution reduction measures to protect public health. In addition, he modernized fuel-economy standards for the first time in two decades, which also helped the auto industry; invested in energy efficiency and renewable electricity; and created tens of thousands of jobs.
Gov. Mitt Romney’s energy agenda couldn’t be more different. He would undo new safeguards from mercury, carcinogens, soot, and smog from industrial sources. He opposes the improved fuel-economy standards, and would continue and expand tax breaks for big oil companies, while openly disparaging clean energy and investments in wind power.
In short, there are stark differences between the two presidential candidates that must be discussed on October 3 so Americans have a clear view of the energy path each candidate would lead us down.
Below is a more detailed direct comparison of their positions on the most visible energy challenges facing the nation. Following this chart is documentation on the candidates’ positions:
Oil and gas production
- Oil imports lowest since 1997; dropped by 15 percent during term to 42 percent; vowed to cut current oil imports in half by 2020. [[Energy Information Administration, 6/12]
- Domestic oil production is the highest in 15 years. The United States has more drilling rigs at work than the rest of the world combined. [Center for American Progress Action Fund,9/13/12; Energy Information Administration, 9/11/12]
- Crude oil production from federal lands and waters was higher in 2009, 2010 and 2011 than in any of the last three years of the Bush administration. [EIA, 3/14/12]
- Raised worker and environmental 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 Gulf Coast 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]
- Would open the Florida portion of the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic and Pacific Outer Continental Shelves, public lands, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to new drilling. Would accelerate drilling permits, short circuiting health and environmental reviews. [MittRomney.com, 2011]
- Defense Department concerned about Florida and Virginia drilling expansion since it could interfere with military training. [Panama City News Herald, 4/4/12]
- Called the temporary moratorium on drilling in the Gulf following the Deepwater Horizon disaster “illegal.” [CBS News, 3/9/12]
- See “Public lands protection”
Big Oil tax breaks
- Calls on Congress to end $4 billion in oil tax breaks and to invest in clean energy instead. [White House, 3/28/2012]
- Pledged to cut subsidies for oil, coal, and natural gas internationally, along with G20 nations. [Economist,10/1/09]
- Romney supports the House Republican budget, authored by his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), which preserves $40 billion in tax breaks for the oil and gas industry over a decade. [CAP, 3/20/12]
- Romney’s economic plan would give the big five oil companies–BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell–an additional $2.3 billion annual tax cut on top of existing tax breaks they currently receive. [CAPAF, 7/26/12]
- 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. [MittRomney.com, 2012]
- 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]