Policy Position on Energy Development Compare & Contrast
The purpose of this paper is to contrast the policy positions of and Mitt Romney on energy development. In the 2012 US presidential campaigns, these leaders have promised to implement various policies in the energy sector if elected as the next president.
Following his election in 2008, on developing clean energy. This strategy was meant to reduce the use of oil in the US and to improve the quality of the environment.
In 2011, Obama developed a master plan that will enable the US to double its production of renewable energy. According to this master plan, 80% of the countrys electricity will be produced through clean energy sources such as nuclear and natural gas (Jindal, 2012).
The president has also offered grants and tax credits to support the development and use of alternative energy. In early 2012, Obama modified his energy policy by opting to exploit all sources of energy.
Romneys policy, on the other hand, focuses on reforming regulations in the energy sector. Furthermore, he advocates for increased production of energy at the local level. Romney has promised to streamline rules that are used to control pollution in the fossil fuel industry.
Unlike Obama, Romney has called for increased production and use of oil and gas. He argues that the fossil fuel industry has the potential of creating more jobs (Murray, 2012). Despite these differences, the two candidates agree that dependence on oil imports should be reduced.
Additionally, they agree that the energy sector should be expanded in order to facilitate economic growth. Since energy development is a broad topic, this paper will focus on the candidates positions on the Keystone pipeline project and ANWR.
The Keystone Pipeline Project
The Keystone pipeline is a transport system through which crude oil will be transported from Canada to various locations in the United States. The oil will be transported through a pipeline that connects the two countries. The transport system will cover approximately 3,461 kilometers.
Figure 1 shows the proposed route of the pipeline, whereas figure 2 shows a section of the completed phase. The project was adopted in 2010 by the government of the US and Canada to facilitate economic growth through expansion of the energy sector.
Concisely, Canada will benefit by increasing its oil exports to the United States (Jindal, 2012). Additionally, it will be able to use various ports in the US to export its oil to other countries. The United States, on the other hand, will benefit by accessing enough oil to satisfy its growing energy needs.
Furthermore, transporting oil through the pipeline is considered to be relatively safe. The project is also expected to create jobs in both countries.
In the United States, the project has temporarily been stopped due to economic, political and environmental concerns. The policy positions of the two presidential candidates on the project are summarized in table 1.
Figure 1: Map of the Keystone Pipeline Route
Map of the Keystone Pipeline Route
Figure 2: Completed Section of the Pipeline
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Completed Section of the Pipeline
Table 1: Positions on Keystone Pipeline
Has opposed the project by suspending its implementation Has strongly supported the implementation of the project
Argues that the project has potential environmental impacts such as air and water pollution, as well as, destruction of wildlife and their habitats Argues that the potential environmental impacts can be addressed effectively. Thus, the project should not be stopped due to the expected environmental effects
Believes that developing alternative energy sources can create more jobs than the Keystone project Believes that the Keystone project is likely to create more jobs than the clean energy sector
Believes that the project will increase USAs dependence on imported oil Believes that the project is necessary since USAs demand for energy is increasing. Thus, more oil will still be imported even if the project is abandoned
Argues that the project is likely to serve the interest of Canada at the expense of the US Argues that the US will be the gainer since it will access reliable supply of oil and create more job opportunities
President Obamas Position
President Obama has postponed the implementation of the project due to rising concerns about its potential impacts to the environment. Environmentalists believe that the project is likely to cause air and water pollution.
Additionally, the construction of the pipeline will lead to the destruction of wildlife and their migratory routes. According to the original plan, the pipeline will pass through wetlands such as the Sand-hills in Nebraska.
It will also cross important reservoirs such as the Ogallala Aquifer which supplies water to more than two million citizens. Thus, any oil spills will lead to massive water pollution. These fears are exacerbated by the fact that the pipeline will pass through regions which are susceptible to high intensity earthquakes.
An oil spill is likely to occur if the pipeline is destroyed by earthquake or seismic activities. The process of mining tar sands will also lead to the destruction of ancient forests. Besides, the process will create large pits which are health hazards.
Empirical studies indicate that using the oil is likely to cause acidic rain which is harmful to both wildlife and the human population. Moreover, acidic rain will affect fisheries if it finds its way into lakes and oceans.
Obama and his fellow democrats believe that the project will only serve the interest of Canada. In a nutshell, transporting the oil to the Gulf Coast will lead to its exportation to Asian markets. Consequently, it will not help the United States to improve its fuel independence.
Selling the oil in the United States is expected to increase the countrys dependence on fossil fuel. This contradicts Obamas initial energy policy which focuses on replacing the use of fossil fuels with clean energy.
Consequently, Obama believes that alternative programs such as implementing the new automobile mileage standards will be desirable. These programs will not only reduce carbon emission, but will also create more job opportunities in the automobile industry.
According to Obama, a thriving alternative energy sector is likely to create more jobs than the Keystone project. Additionally, developing the clean energy sector is the best way of ensuring reliable energy supply.
Fuel price is not expected to reduce after the construction of the pipeline since oil prices are controlled by forces of demand and supply in the global market. In this regard, the project will have little contribution in the process of economic growth and job creation.
Engineers in the energy sector have warned that the project can lead to over capacity in the oil industry. After completing the project, most pipelines in the United States are expected to operate at half capacity.
Constructing a pipeline that is expected to be underutilized is a sign of resource misallocation. Consequently, the countrys scarce resources should be used for other viable projects rather than the Keystone pipeline system.
Romney acknowledges the fact that the project is likely to cause environmental pollution. However, he argues that the best solution is to find ways of addressing the pollution rather than abandoning the project.
In this context, he has promised to streamline regulation in the oil industry in order to promote safe production and use of fossil fuels (WSJ, 2012).
The communities which are likely to be affected by the project will be compensated. For instance, land owners will receive compensations for their properties. Thus, the project will not cause losses to the affected communities.
According to Romney, abandoning the project will expose the United States to higher environmental risks. More oil has to be imported in order to meet the growing demand. However, the existing pipelines are facing capacity constraints.
Thus, abandoning the project will necessitate transportation of oil through trains and trucks. These alternative transportation methods are likely to cause high pollution through greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, transporting oil by road or railway systems is likely to cause more accidents than the pipeline.
Transport economists argue that transporting oil through a pipeline costs less than using trains and trucks. Hence, the project will lead to significant cost savings which will promote economic growth. Romneys support for the project is also based on the premise that Canada is the most reliable supplier of oil to the United States.
Oil supplies from Venezuela, Mexico, as well as, Nigeria is expected to reduce in the next decade due to declining production. However, oil production in Canada is expected to increase in the next decade.
Consequently, it will be in the interest of the United States to secure oil supply from Canada. This will help in avoiding future oil shocks.
Romney and his fellow republicans have dismissed claims that the pipeline will serve the interest of Canada at the expense of the United States. The project is expected to create more construction jobs than any project in the energy industry (Murray, 2012).
Given the current economic decline, the jobs will help thousands of Americans and businesses to fulfill their financial dreams. Romney argues that the oil from Canada will still be exported to Asian markets even if the project is abandoned. Canada has the potential of using alternative routes to export its oil to overseas markets.
Thus, constructing the pipeline will enable the US to generate revenue by allowing Canada to export oil through the Gulf Coast. The revenue will be generated through the fees that Canada will pay for the use of USAs portion of the pipeline and other facilities such as ports.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)
ANWR is located in the northern part of Alaska. It is a protected wildlife refuge that supports thousands of plant and animal species. Figure 3 shows part of the refuge. Some of the most common animal species in the refuge include polar bears, lemmings and caribou.
The refuge is one of the most important tourist attractions in America. Apart from providing habitats for wildlife, the refuge also holds large amounts of oil deposits. Over two billion barrels of crude oil can be obtained in this region.
The presence of oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has generated debate on the future use of the land in which it is located. Some industrialists and political leaders believe that the oil should be drilled in order to meet the countrys energy demands.
However, drilling oil in the refuge will lead to destruction of wildlife and environmental pollution. It is against this backdrop that most environmentalists oppose any attempts to drill oil in the region. The positions of President Obama and Romney on ANWR are summarized in table 2.
Figure 3: Part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
Table 2: Positions on ANWR
Barrack Obama Mitt Romney
Has opposed oil exploration in ANWR in his 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns Has openly supported exploration and drilling of oil at the ANWR in his presidential campaigns
Argues that alternative energy sources such as wind, solar and nuclear should be used to enhance USAs energy independence Argues that drilling oil in ANWR will help in achieving his no regrets energy plans. In a nutshell, it will help in improving Americas energy independence
Supports the view that oil exploration in ANWR will lead to destruction of wildlife and cause environmental pollution Acknowledges the fact that oil exploration in ANWR has negative environmental effects. However, he intends to introduce measures such tax incentives on fuel efficient cars in order to protect the ecosystem
Supports the implementation of policies that encourage protection of the environment including the ANWR Has promised to eliminate regulations that hamper exploitation of fossil fuel resources including oil exploration in the ANWR
Argues that oil reserves at the ANWR are not sufficient for long term supply. Hence, he recommends long term solutions Argues that oil supply from ANWR will supplement other oil and energy sources. Thus, it will help in reducing oil imports
President Obama has always opposed oil exploration at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge due to the following reasons. The president supports the view that drilling oil in the refuge will cause serious environmental problems such as air pollution and destruction of the ecosystem.
It is apparent that oil exploration activities in the refuge will cause destruction to wildlife and their habitats. Environmental studies have revealed that oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will cause irreversible damage.
This means that rehabilitating the refuge after the depletion of the oil deposits will not be possible. Thus, stopping the exploration is the best way to protect the refuge.
According to Obama, oil production in the ANWR has little economic value. The refuge can not produce enough oil to support economic activities in the United States for a long time. Besides, the oil will not have any effects on the international oil prices.
Thus, the United States will still experience difficulties in production due to high oil prices. In this regard, drilling oil in the ANWR will not help in solving Americas energy problems. Whereas the economic benefits of the oil are expected to be little, the cost of the exploration is expected to be very high.