During the course of the presidential campaign, surrogates of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama and the candidates themselves have made statements related to energy issues generally and energy efficiency matters specifically. While neither candidate has spoken in substantial detail about energy efficiency, it is worth noting that both campaigns have offered opinions. For additional clarity, here’s a break-down of those instances.
Energy Efficiency in the 2012 Presidential Campaign
Throughout his 2012 presidential campaign, Obama has stated that he views energy efficiency as a means to reduce pollution, spending, and dependence on foreign oil. Should he be reelected, the President has pledged to continue advancing energy efficiency initiatives, particularly by working to retrofit schools, hospitals, and other buildings.
During the second presidential debate, Obama stressed the importance of energy efficiency as a means to build energy sources for the future. He highlighted his record on energy efficiency, including investments to increase vehicle fuel economy standards, and said America must “continue to figure out how we have efficient energy, because ultimately that’s how we’re going to reduce demand, and that’s what’s going to keep gas prices lower.”
Also during the campaign, Obama told the Des Moines Register that if America “achieved efficiencies at the level of, let’s say, Japan, we could actually cut our power bill by about 20-25%.”
Governor Romney’s energy platform does not mention energy efficiency.
Romney also has voiced concerns to the fuel efficiency standards that were recently implemented. “The government CAFE [Corporate Average Fuel Economy] standards hurt domestic automakers and provided a benefit to some of the foreign automakers,” Romney said when speaking to the Detroit Economic Club earlier this year.
Should he be elected president, Romney may identify areas to include energy efficiency in his agenda, but such policies would be approached with a critical eye, Romney Campaign surrogate Oren Cass told E&E TV. “The interesting thing about energy efficiency and government policy related to it is that it is most of the time a solution in search of a problem,” Cass said, describing Romney’s views on energy efficiency.
How the Candidates’ Energy Platforms Compare
Very little has been offered by Governor Romney or President Obama as candidates on policy proposals that would advance energy efficiency. However, the candidates’ energy platforms suggest the potential for a few approaches. For instance, on vehicle efficiency, Obama would continue to promote higher vehicle efficiency standards. Conversely, Romney opposes vehicle fuel economy standards as “disadvantageous for domestic manufacturers.”
Similar Goals with Potentially Different Approaches
Obama and Romney may share similar goals in their energy platforms, such as to increase domestic oil production, but their strategies to tackling America’s energy consumption could differ. For the President, energy efficiency is another opportunity to decrease demand for oil and reduce fuel costs, thereby improving energy security. While the former Governor has been mostly unclear about how energy efficiency initiatives should be approached in the broader context. As the election approaches, the question remains as to how the outcome of the election will determine America’s energy future.