July 2015 /// Vol 236 No. 7

Columns

Energy issues

Election rhetoric blossoming

William J. Pike, World Oil

With the U.S. presidential elections only 16 months away, I am feeling more pressure daily to announce my candidacy. Timing is important—too early, and you are just one of the pack. Too late, and you have missed the opportunity to establish a media and online presence. So, I am thinking it will be soon.

Of course, there are one or two other little hitches in my plan to run for President. Perhaps the most vexing is my energy policy. As an oil and gas guy, the electorate will expect me to have one. They will also expect it to embrace all sources of energy. And, it will have to differentiate me from the other candidates, which may be difficult as the announced and potential candidates span the plausible options for energy policies. Here are samples of what I am up against.

Republican candidate Jeb Bush, who has alternately opposed and supported offshore drilling—so long as it is not too close to his house in Florida—was bold and to the point in a recent statement. “Expanding domestic energy production is key to ensuring America’s energy security, and with input from state leaders, we now have a chance to create a national energy plan to reform the leasing system, to expand drilling in areas where it is safe.”

Democrat Hillary Clinton, viewed as “über-liberal” by many, has actually leaned to the right in her limited discussions/displays of energy policy. Like many others, her notions on energy policy are tied to CO2 and greenhouse gas issues. But, contrary to expectations, they have, at times, been driven by practicality, as when she noted in a 2007 speech in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that one of her policy goals was to cut foreign oil imports by two-thirds from projected levels by 2030.

A year earlier, she sided with Republicans and “oil-patch” Democrats by voting for the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act in 2006. The act opened some 8 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas development. To be sure, Clinton is no great lover of oil and gas, preferring the development of alternative energies. But, she is pragmatic about the role of oil and gas in the country’s energy mix.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, from Texas, would be expected to be a strong proponent of oil and gas. Speaking at the Heritage Action for America’s 2014 Conservative Policy Summit, Cruz said, “the government will not solve our economic problems by controlling the economy or placing bureaucratic barriers to growth. The only thing that it must do is what it did in the Ronald Reagan era—get out of our way and let Americans do what they do best: dream, innovate and prosper. It’s happening in Texas, and it's happening in North Dakota (referring to the shale oil boom). Now, we just have to convince Washington to let it spread through the rest of America.”

But, Cruz doesn’t go as far as some might think. He introduced a bill last year to give states the right to determine whether they would allow drilling off their coasts, although, curiously, the bill did not include that right for some areas of the North Atlantic and the North Aleutians basin offshore Alaska.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, like Cruz another Republican from a major oil and gas state, would also be expected to have a pro-oil-and-gas energy policy. He doesn’t disappoint. Speaking to the Heritage Foundation last year, Jindal unveiled his energy platform for America.

Noting that the United States has the largest natural energy resources in the world, Jindal argued for expanded energy production to create jobs and strengthen the economy. The oil and gas industry employs millions of Americans, and “millions of more jobs could be created, if the federal government simply stays out of the way,” Jindal said. “Many manufacturers are now choosing to bring their jobs and facilities back to the U.S., because of the low energy prices that resulted from domestic energy innovations like fracing.” According to the governor, fracing, alone, will lead to a 7% increase in America’s median household income.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has noted that he supports “a comprehensive energy plan that encourages nuclear energy, exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and environmentally safe leasing of oil and natural gas fields in the outer continental shelf, and on federally owned lands with oil shale in the West” (2010 Senate campaign website, www.marcorubio.com, "Issues," Feb. 3, 2010).

“One of the best ways to encourage growth is through our energy industry. Of course, solar and wind energy should be a part of our energy portfolio. But God also blessed America with abundant coal, oil and natural gas. Instead of wasting more taxpayer money on so-called "clean energy" companies like Solyndra, let's open up more federal lands for safe and responsible exploration” (GOP Response to the 2013 State of the
Union Address).

Democratic independent candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is publically against all offshore oil and gas development, and supports punitive legislation aimed at the industry. Among other actions, he introduced the gold standard for climate change legislation, with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), to tax carbon and methane emissions, and he led the opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline.

Hmmmm! On second thought, I have decided to abandon my candidacy. This is politics at its highest level. The stakes are huge, the egos even larger and the propensity to concede on any issue pronounced. The bottom line is that we have 16 months (16 long, irritating, noisy months) to Election Day, a period in which any stance is directly related to its ability to generate votes. Energy policy. What energy policy? wo-box_blue.gif 

The Authors ///

William J. Pike has 47 years’ experience in the upstream oil and gas industry, and serves as Chairman of the World Oil Editorial Advisory Board.

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