As the most expensive race on record, the 2012 presidential election consumed a vital resource: energy. Most of that energy – in the form of transportation and electricity (to produce all those TV ads) – isn’t renewable and, therefore, we won’t be getting it back. Ever.
So now what? We’ve used vast amounts of energy to re-elect our leader, but where does that leave the future of energy itself?
“The coal industry, I think, is a big loser,” said Linda Stuntz, former deputy energy secretary during George H.W. Bush’s administration (and energy adviser to Romney’s campaign). “I just don’t see any change in this administration’s agenda, which has been very bad for coal.”
In general, fossil fuels may not fare as well with this president as they would have under a Republican president. On the other hand, it won’t be smooth sailing for the green groups either. Getting any bold action on energy or climate change through Congress could be daunting. Lawsuits and other hurdles can still hamper efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate emissions from power plants and other pollution sources.
President Obama hasn’t talked much about climate change lately. However, in his election night victory speech (post-Hurricane Sandy), he said he wants to build a country “that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”
One of the president’s goals is to get one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. In his first term, Obama passed comprehensive vehicle efficiency standards that will, by 2025, result in the average car burning half the amount of gasoline it currently uses.
Renewable energy projects have been gaining steam over the last few years. No big solar energy projects had been permitted on public lands before President Obama was elected the first time. Under his administration, according to the Interior Department, 33 renewable energy projects involving public lands have been approved. These include 18 solar plants, seven wind farms and eight geothermal plants. In May, the first of those – Enbridge Silver State North, a 50-megawatt solar PV array near Las Vegas – went online.
Continuation and/or expansion of tax credits for all alternative energy use and sourcing, whether for personal or commercial use, likely will be key to reaching the new energy goals and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.
While Obama’s administration has worked to reduce harmful emissions and shift the country toward cleaner energy, experts advise that the country needs a forward-looking national climate and energy strategy. Obama must initiate serious talks on climate change, identify actions needed to address the crisis, work with Congress on policies such as taxing carbon, and instruct the EPA to implement new standards to reduce dangerous greenhouse gases from existing power plants. The president should reject short-term fixes that would over-exploit America’s natural resources, decimate our lands, or continue our dependence on fossil fuels.
While not handed a mandate, President Obama won a clean and clear victory. Now is the time for him to call on a bipartisan Congress to join together to create clean and clear energy policies for a better, stronger America.
Cindy Foor is a senior communications professional with more than 20 years of experience at global companies. She previously was vice president of corporate communications for Atmos Energy, the nation’s largest natural gas distribution company.
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