Obama sees clear choices in energy for the next 4 years

US voters will be able to choose between energy policies that embrace future technologies and responsibly develop more conventional resources, or a strategy that would reverse progress over the last 4 years, US President Barack Obama said as he formally accepted his party’s nomination for a second term.

“We’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration in the last 3 years, and we’ll open more,” he said as he addressed the 2012 Democratic National Convention’s closing session on Sept. 6 in Charlotte, NC.

“But unlike my opponent, I will not let oil companies write this country’s energy plan, or endanger our coastlines, or collect another $4 billion in corporate welfare from our taxpayers,” Obama said.

He said Democrats offer a better path that continues to investigate wind, solar, and clean-coal technology research and development; encourage development of biofuels; improve energy efficiency; and develop “a hundred-year supply of natural gas that’s right beneath our feet.” He said, “If you choose this path, we can cut our oil imports in half by 2020 and support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone,” adding, “And, yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet—because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke. They are a threat to our children’s future. And in this election, you can do something about it.”

Varied reactions

Oil and gas industry associations’ initial reactions varied.

A spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute said, “The president's goal of cutting oil imports in half by 2020 would require a reversal from actions this administration has taken to stifle the opportunities for oil and gas development on federal lands and offshore. Increased oil and gas production on private and state lands under which the president has no control has happened despite his policies.”

API hopes that Obama decides to pursue a true “all-of-the-above” energy policy if he wins a second term by allowing more oil and gas development on federal acreage on and offshore, he continued. “The reality is that we will need more oil and natural gas in our future and the president should abandon rhetoric that pits one energy resource against another,” he said.

Julia Bell, public and industry affairs manager at the Independent Petroleum Association of America, noted that while oil and gas producers appreciate Obama’s emphasis on US energy resource development in his acceptance address, he also unfairly took credit for US oil and gas production growth during his first term.

“The remarkable oil and gas development in recent years is an achievement of the private sector…independent producers operating on private and state lands who, rather than benefiting from the Obama administration’s policies, have to overcome its regulatory hurdles,” she said.

American Gas Association Pres. Dave McCurdy applauded Obama’s statement supporting more US gas development. “Both candidates have acknowledged the role of natural gas in our nation’s future, and AGA and its members will continue to collaborate with policymakers at all levels,” he said.

The president’s remarks pleased environmental organizations, however. “In the face of relentless attacks from dirty energy billionaires, President Obama has led the way for America to become the global leader in clean energy investment,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said, adding, “That is progress to be proud of and momentum that can only be seized if President Obama is reelected.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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