Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

How Energy Policy Will Impact Upcoming Elections

Energy
How Energy Policy Will Impact Upcoming Elections

DeSmogBlog

By Farron Cousins

Environmental and energy issues became one of the central issues of the 2008 U.S. presidential election. While the economy itself took center stage, energy issues were right behind it, being pushed by the insufferable chant of “Drill baby drill.” In the four years that have followed, the U.S. has seen a boom in hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the worst oil spill in our history, skyrocketing (and then plummeting) gas prices, a disastrous oil pipeline plan that threatens the safety of our aquifers and a Republican-led assault on environmental safety standards.

With all of these issues weighing heavily in the mind of the American public, there’s no doubt that both energy policy and environmental concerns will once again play an important role in the 2012 election cycle.

To help educate those voters concerned about the environmental policies and histories of the 2012 candidates, we’re putting together a multi-part series called What to Expect When You’re Electing, and we will discuss the statements, policies, positions and industry money received by both major presidential candidates, as well as those seeking lower offices.

While the highest office in the land is up for grabs this year, the real victories for the environment might actually come from Senate and House races. In the last four years, many of the major victories and setbacks for the environment have come from Congress, and electing a pro-environment representative body might actually have more impact on the issues than the Commander in Chief.

And it’s not hard to see why. Here’s a quick overview of what has been happening in Washington, and how these issues might play out in the upcoming election:

Just last week, Republicans in the House of Representatives held a Transportation Bill hostage. The bill was being held hostage until Congressional Democrats agree to include approval for the Keystone XL Pipeline in the House version of the bill, even though the Senate version (which was Keystone-free) passed with broad bipartisan support. Ultimately, the bill passed Congress on June 29 notably absent the Keystone XL and coal ash riders and will move to President Obama's desk for signatures.

On issues such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and oil exploration, House Republicans have again been at the forefront of these issues. Two weeks ago, we reported on a legislative package being put forth by industry-funded Republicans in the House that would gut the EPA’s ability to enforce air pollution standards, while at the same time open up previously off-limits federal lands to oil drilling and general exploitation by the energy industry. The legislative package has been lauded by groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute.

The EPA has been under attack for quite a long time, and many candidates in recent years have actually campaigned under an “abolish the EPA” mantle. Earlier this year, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich referred to the EPA as “a job-killing regulatory engine of higher energy prices.” He also told reporters that if he were ever elected president, the entire agency would be abolished. Republican congressman Ed Whitfield has also stated that his goal is to weaken the EPA to the point where the agency has absolutely no power left to regulate industry.

The issues discussed here are important to this election cycle because every one of them can be traced back to a broader issue: Jobs.

America is still suffering from a very weak employment situation, and any issue that can be framed as an “anti-jobs” or “anti-worker” issue resonates very well with the public. And even though the employment gains from utilizing the EPA to its fullest capacity far outweigh the employment gains from destroying it, some Republicans in Washington are still pushing the tired, untrue talking points about regulations destroying jobs.

And that’s what is at stake in this year’s elections. In Part 2 of this series, we’ll focus on the presumptive Republican nominee: Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney.

Visit EcoWatch's ENERGY page for more related news on this topic.

 

On Thursday, Maryland will become the first state in the nation to implement a ban on foam takeout containers. guruXOOX / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Maryland will become the first state in the nation Thursday to implement a ban on foam takeout containers.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A sea turtle and tropical fish swim in Oahu, Hawaii. M.M. Sweet / Moment / Getty Images

By Ajit Niranjan

Leaders from across the world have promised to turn environmental degradation around and put nature on the path to recovery within a decade.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Smoke from the Glass Fire rises from the hills on September 27, 2020 in Calistoga, California. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Just days after a new report detailed the "unequivocal and pervasive role" climate change plays in the increased frequency and intensity of wildfires, new fires burned 10,000 acres on Sunday as a "dome" of hot, dry air over Northern California created ideal fire conditions over the weekend.

Read More Show Less
Sir David Attenborough speaks at the launch of the UK-hosted COP26 UN Climate Summit at the Science Museum on Feb. 4, 2020 in London, England. Jeremy Selwyn - WPA Pool / Getty Images

Sir David Attenborough wants to share a message about the climate crisis. And it looks like his fellow Earthlings are ready to listen.

Read More Show Less
People walk down a flooded street as they evacuate their homes after the area was inundated with flooding from Hurricane Harvey on August 27, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Kevin T. Smiley

When hurricanes and other extreme storms unleash downpours like Tropical Storm Beta has been doing in the South, the floodwater doesn't always stay within the government's flood risk zones.

New research suggests that nearly twice as many properties are at risk from a 100-year flood today than the Federal Emergency Management Agency's flood maps indicate.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch