Obama vs. Romney: Contrasting Views on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

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Energy and environmental issues, vital to the future of the United States, are seen in sharply divergent ways by presidential candidates Barak Obama and Mitt Romney.

The following article is posted with permission from Yale Environment 360.

Yale Environment 360 has compiled a comparison of the environmental positions of presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on the topics of Climate Change, Oil and Gas Drilling, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, and The EPA and Environmental Regulations. Below is their comparison of the candidates on energy issues. You can read all of the comparisons in the article “Obama vs. Romney: A Stark Contrast on the Environment” on the Yale Environment 360 website. — Mother

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

Barack Obama

  • Has invested billions of dollars in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Since 2008, U.S. has doubled generation of electricity from renewable sources; nearly 6 percent of U.S. electricity now comes from non-hydropower, alternative energy sources.
  • In 2011, U.S. was the world leader in clean energy spending, investing $48 billion in green energy.
  • Has set ambitious clean energy goals, vowing that 80 percent of U.S. electricity will come from renewable sources by 2035.
  • Has supported legislation, now set to expire, that extends production tax credits to the wind industry.
  • His administration gave $535 million in federal loan guarantees to the now-bankrupt solar panel manufacturer, Solyndra, sparking harsh criticism from Romney and Republicans.
  • Has enacted regulations requiring U.S. vehicle fleets to attain an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, a doubling of current standards. Says the new standards will reduce U.S. oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels per day by 2025, saving consumers $1.7 trillion at the pump, and eliminating 6 billion metric tons of carbon pollution by 2025. Has helped fund efficiency upgrades on more than 1 million homes and 1,400 manufacturing plants.
  • Department of Defense has embarked on a wide range of programs to develop biofuels for its ships, vehicles, and planes, and to bring renewable energy technologies to the battlefield.
  • Has accused the Romney campaign of drafting an energy plan “written by and for big oil companies.” Told community college students in Maryland, “They dismiss wind power. They dismiss solar power. They make jokes about biofuels. They were against raising fuel standards. If some of these folks were around when Columbus set sail, they probably must have been founding members of the flat earth society.”

Mitt Romney

  • Opposes extending the production tax credit for the wind industry and has vowed to end federal subsidies for renewable energy projects. Campaign spokesman said Romney will “end the stimulus boondoggles and create a level playing field on which all sources of energy can complete on their merits.”
  • Vows to “facilitate private-sector-led development of new energy technologies”
  • Has sharply criticized Obama’s approach to renewable energy, writing in an op-ed, “In place of real energy, Obama has focused on an imaginary world where government-subsidized windmills and solar panels could power the economy. This vision has failed.” Said Obama’s green jobs strategy “seems to be operating more on faith than on fact-based calculation.”
  • Mocked Obama’s “all of the above” energy strategy, saying what Obama really meant is that he supports only energy sources that come from above ground: “So he’s for solar and wind, but he doesn’t like coal, oil, and gas because they’re below the ground. Now we understand Obama-speak a little better.”
  • Shortly after becoming governor of Massachusetts, supported renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives, authorizing the investment of $24 million from a state trust state in alternative energy projects. Encouraged public-private partnerships to develop clean energy.