This is the fifth story of an 11-article series leading up to the Nov. 6 presidential election that will break down the issues dominating political debates. Check back next Thursday for our segment on debt and spending.
America is a wealth of resources.
That’s one thing President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney can agree on.
So many resources, in fact, that both political juggernauts think America shouldn’t need to rely on other nations for any sort of energy.
Romney set an energy independence goal of 2020. His website details the steps that his administration would take to accomplish this goal that “every president since Nixon has tried and failed to achieve.”
Energy independence could be achieved through a list of actions, including the empowerment of states to control onshore energy development, opening offshore areas for development, accurate assessment of energy resources, regulation transparency and the list continues.
Romney’s website accuses Obama of sending “billions of taxpayer dollars to green energy projects run by political cronies.” The website also says Obama took a step backward in rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline, which is an extension to an already existing pipeline that brings crude oil from Alberta, Canada, to different points in the U.S.
But Obama has not fully rejected the pipeline. According to a Washington Post article, TransCanada, the company that owns the line, filed an extension application in September 2008. In January 2012, the State Department denied the application due to insufficient time to assess its impact, but TransCanada filed a new application with a modified route through Nebraska in May.
Despite Romney’s naysaying, Obama is also trying to reduce dependence on foreign oil.
“He’s really trying to build America’s crude oil production while trying to reduce our foreign oil, and right now America’s dependence on (foreign) crude oil is at a 16-year low,” said Rachel DeNoewer, a fourth-year in natural resource management and an intern with the Obama campaign.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, America produced almost 660,000 more barrels of crude oil per day in 2011 than the 5 million it produced in 2008, just before Obama took office.
This has been done, Obama’s website states, by opening up 75 percent of America’s oil and gas resources in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean and millions of acres of land for development.
“The United States is blessed with a cornucopia of carbon-based energy resources,” according to Romney’s website, and he also wants to take advantage of those blessings.
Romney plans to dig into and develop America’s energy reserves, support construction of pipelines that would bring Canadian oil to the U.S., and research.
A representative from Romney for Ohio did not respond to requests for comment.
But Niraj Antani, communications director for Ohio State College Republicans, said voters can zero in on Ohio for some answers.
“We have to have an all-of-the-above strategy. Ohio has a lot of natural resources and coal and shale, and all that stuff provides a lot of jobs,” Antani said. “There’s a way to protect the environment and still use our natural resources.”
Antani brought the environmental issues back to the economy, and said job creation should be at the forefront of the government’s minds when looking into clean energy, especially in Ohio.
According to the Ohio Coal Association’s website, the Ohio coal industry directly employs more than 3,000 people.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that nationally, there were more than 5,000 more coal mining jobs in May 2011 than in May 2008. Obama is also working toward clean coal, something Scott Potter, senior energy adviser for OSU’s Office of Energy and Environment, said OSU researchers are also investigating.
“We have lots of research in clean coal,” Potter said. “The notion of clean coal is actually extracting the CO2 from the coal. Not just scrubbing it after it’s been burned, but taking the carbon dioxide and turning it into a commercially viable product.”
But Obama is also trying to implement something Antani said Romney wants: an All of the Above approach.
Obama’s policy also looks to increase domestic natural gas production, solar and wind energy.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, annual wind-generated energy increased in the U.S. more than 60 terawatt hours from 2008 to 2011. The entire world uses about 15 terawatt hours of energy in a year.
America is not producing quite as much solar-generated energy as wind-generated, but its annual solar-generated energy has about doubled since 2008, according to Obama’s website.
Romney wants to use alternative energy funding to research further.
“Our generation, we’re part of the green movement. We’re kind of like the first generation that grew up with this, and I think that’s really important to us, it’s kind of one of our values,” DeNeower said. “We’re very environmentally conscious and I think that Obama really appeals to us in that way.”
Kristen Mitchell contributed to this story.