Debate 2015: Where is the energy?

Blog Post
Before discussing last night's GOP debate, a quick look back in time. Energy issues played a big role in both of President Obama's presidential elections. In 2008 and 2012, America was struggling with high oil, gasoline and natural gas prices and a strong push was being made from the international community for carbon caps.

During the 2008 race, then Sen. Obama focused on reducing oil consumption and the development and deployment of renewable energy. He also advocated the creation of a global energy forum to address the implementation of a cap and trade system for carbon. At the same time, Sen. McCain also advocated reducing petroleum dependence through the accelerated development of domestic oil and gas. He stressed the importance of creating additional nuclear energy. Sen. McCain supported reducing carbon emissions through a market-based solution.

In the 2012 race, President Obama focused on supporting more renewable energy and cutting subsidies for the oil industry. He offered some support for horizontal fracking but also advocated for more air and water safeguards. His administration did not support development of the Keystone Pipeline System. Gov. Romney pledged to end the EPA's war on coal, opposed any cap and trade, and supported Keystone and the development of U.S. shale resources.

Today, the U.S. is awash in cheap oil and natural gas from both domestic and international sources. Bringing cheap oil to the U.S. from Canada (Keystone) is almost a non-issue as the U.S. has regained its status as the top oil and natural gas producer in the world. Gasoline is relatively cheap and a number of industries are thriving because of the availability of cheap natural gas. In Ohio, more capital investment is being made by the natural gas supply chain than all other industries combined.

Against this backdrop, 10 GOP candidates gathered in Cleveland. When the evening ended, energy had been... ignored! What a missed opportunity by the debate moderators to address the topic of energy directly! Now is the time to leverage our energy bounty. The shale industry should be embraced. We should be using natural gas and cleaner coal as an inexpensive bridge to more renewable energy while also pursuing export options to maximize the oil and gas industries and their associated jobs. Finally, an increased investment in energy technology would insure our energy advantage into the next generation.

I hope that future presidential debates will do a better job of addressing the energy opportunity.

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