Shallow Energy Policies Permeate 2012 Presidential Race

The race to November 6th is about over. The last Presidential debate is tonight on foreign policy. What is disappointing is the lack of a real, coherent discussion of national energy policies by either President Obama or Governor Romney. Both have said, for all intents and purposes, that “all of the above is my energy policy.” Except, in the case of Governor Romney, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Except, in the case of President Obama, fossil fuels, especially coal, and aggressive development of nuclear energy.

Both have said little or nothing coherent about addressing climate change. The President is being urged by the Environmental Lobby to impose very expensive, draconian measures on the economy with no regard for costs to consumers. Governor Romney is being urged by the far right to deny a response to climate change altogether.

Renewable energy is still not competitive on costs to consumers without federal and state incentives, such as the soon to expire Production Tax Credit. Energy efficiency is cost-competitive now and could be made more prevalent with aggressive incentives and building codes based on LEED or other similar programs.

Fossil fuels will continue to be the dominant energy source for many years because they are readily available and affordable to consumers. Nuclear energy, if released from overkill regulations and supported by federal/private research dollars devoted to developing small (100 MW) modular units, could significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Talk, of course, is cheap. Both candidates will claim they really do mean “all of the above,” however their actions belie those statements. This country has the technological, intellectual and financial resources to forge the public/private partnerships that could provide consumers with affordable and reliable energy now as well as in the future. What it does not seem to have is the political leadership to get that done any time soon.

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