The presidential candidates in this year’s election are increasingly rallying their base by pointing out the differences in their philosophies and showcasing the choice before Americans. As voters, we get a chance to choose the direction of the country based on these very different approaches. But is either side telling the truth, and how would we know? One surefire way to understand policy direction is to look at the people those candidates appoint to offices that are not just talking heads, but actual “rubber hits the road” decision makers. Nowhere is this distinction more clear than in the energy sector.
President Obama’s Energy Secretary is Dr. Steven Chu. Chu is a Nobel Prize winning physicist, headed the Lawrence Berkeley Lab, and has taught physics at Stanford. One of his main accomplishments in his four years as Energy Secretary include creating a requirement that new appliances decrease or eliminate the amount of vampire power they use (energy used while plugged in but not turned on–about 15% of the total energy used, and a total waste). Chu has also written and directed policy aimed at improving the nation’s electricity grid, something that most scholars believe can help change the landscape for allowing more renewables, and better decisions by energy users to decrease their consumption–and their bills. He has also actively promoted weather stripping, caulking and other energy efficiency measures, and pushed for tax incentives for these programs.
In contrast, Republican Candidate Mitt Romney’s energy advisor to this point is Harold Hamm, CEO of an oil services company, who lobbied aggressively in front of congress to maintain the $4.1 billion in subsidies that taxpayers give to oil companies every year.
With both candidates saying that the election couldn’t be a clearer choice for the direction of the country, I’d have to say, I agree entirely. When it comes to energy policy, we have an extremely clear choice.