When it comes to the environment, perhaps no other election is more important than the one coming up between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Carbon emissions continue to grow every year and extreme weather events are becoming increasingly prevalent. As a superpower, the US has a certain responsibility to keep its emissions in check and lead the way in environmental sustainability. Unfortunately its track record has not been great in this regard (though it has not been completely abysmal either).
Of all the election issues the Democrats and Republicans differ on, the environment is the one where the two parties diverge the most. This article will contrast the various environmental policies of Obama and Romney heading into the upcoming presidential election.
Although many environmentalists have been disappointed with Obama’s inability to enact key environmental policies so far, Obama does host an environmentally progressive platform heading into the upcoming election.
When it comes to climate change, Obama supports global cooperation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He is in favour of a cap-and-trade system, although an attempt to establish one in 2009 died in the Senate. In addition, the Obama administration has invested billions of dollars into renewable energy and energy efficiency programs (including a $535 million federal loan guarantee to now bankrupt Solyndra).
In terms of oil production, Obama is in favour of opening up federal land for oil drilling, although he opposes drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and off the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards.
Finally, he supports the Environmental Protection Agency and its efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
Mitt Romney’s position on the environment has shifted over the years. Although he had previously been in favor of some environmental policies (as governor of Massachusetts he initially supported a regional cap-and-trade system and dolled out $24 million to alternative energy projects), his position is now almost entirely opposed to environmental policies.
He believes that subsidies to renewable energy should be stopped (despite $4 billion in subsidies going to oil companies every year). He vows to make the US energy independent by 2020 using a “cornucopia” of carbon-based fuels. He would open up drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and pretty much anywhere else that hosts abundant oil resources. He has also stated that he would ensure the Keystone XL Pipeline gets built, even if he “has to build it [himself]”.
He is generally opposed to the Environmental Protection Agency, and against any carbon emissions regulation. He feels the EPA is “out of control” and should be drastically reformed.
Clearly Romney and Obama exhibit a stark contrast when it comes to the environment. Obama is in favor of renewable energy and carbon regulations whereas Romney wants to eradicate renewable energy subsidies and remove carbon regulations.
Which side wins the election will likely have a sizeable impact on the country’s environmental policies in the future. But with emerging powers such as China beginning to invest heavily in renewables and environmental sustainability, the green sector could be the key driver of economic activity in the future global economy.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming US presidential election? Do you think the outcome of the election will be a turning point for US environmental policy?