I understand how it’s easy to lose sight of energy issues in an election cycle with so many “sexier” topics clogging the airwaves, but they remain some of the more important debate points which will affect the nation’s economic prospects over the next four years. We see demonstrations of this every day, with the most recent example being the decision by Kinder Morgan to shut down all work on the Palmetto Pipeline in Georgia under threat of a construction moratorium currently awaiting approval by Governor Nathan Deal.
With that in mind, the American Energy Alliance sent out a questionnaire to all of the candidates from both parties, asking them to articulate their specific plans on a number of questions they will have to deal with as President of the United States. Predictably, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton didn’t even bother responding, but neither did John Kasich. (That last dismissal was rather odd coming from someone who is not only a Republican, but the Governor of a state which has profited handsomely from the American energy revolution.)
Still, the campaigns of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump at least took the time to respond and voters deserve a chance to see where they stand on these critical question. Bloomberg received their responses from AEA and summarized them this week. As you’ll see from the article, there were some predictable similarities on subjects such as the Democrats’ proposed carbon tax, but key differences in other areas.
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz oppose a carbon tax, putting them in league with the Republican National Committee on the issue but at odds with some oil companies and economists who view a levy on those heat-trapping emissions as an effective way to combat climate change.
The top two Republican presidential candidates’ positions on that and other environmental issues were detailed in their responses to a survey by the American Energy Alliance, a free-market, fossil-fuel advocacy group that shared the results with Bloomberg.
Just to avoid any confusion here, the major oil companies are not “in favor” of a carbon tax. Most of them simply see it as highly probable if liberals are ascendant in national races and they’d far rather know what sort of expenses they will incur rather than being blindsided further down the road. But beyond the question of the carbon tax, other subjects where covered. One of them was our old “friend” the Renewable Fuel Standard. On this count, the two GOP hopefuls couldn’t be much further apart.
There were stark differences in Cruz and Trump’s approach to the Renewable Fuel Standard, an 11-year-old mandate that requires refiners to blend steadily escalating amounts of ethanol and next-generation biofuels into gasoline.
Cruz maintained the position he staked out while campaigning through Iowa cornfields that the program should be phased out over five years then repealed, rather than leaving biofuel quotas to the Environmental Protection Agency’s discretion after 2022 as ordained by current law. “I support ending all energy subsidies and mandates,” Cruz said.
Trump said Congress shouldn’t repeal the biofuel mandates. “Until this nation sets its sights on total energy independence, we must support all energy sources,” the billionaire said in a survey response. “If we can truly achieve energy independence, then there would be no need for subsidies or any other form of mandate or market interference.”
Trump is simply wrong on this one, but I suppose he at least gets credit for sticking to the position he adopted in a futile effort to win over Iowa voters who remain in thrall to King Corn. Cruz, for his part, isn’t willing to go to the wall for us in the form of an immediate repeal of the RFS, but at least he’s willing to try to kill it off after the 2020 election, assuming enough support to do so can be found in congress. (That’s a huge “if” by the way.)
There are other topics covered, including climate change, EPA regulatory overreach and drilling on federal lands. You can see Trump’s full response here and Ted Cruz’s answer sheet here. Both of them, along with the Bloomberg article, are well worth a read before you cast your ballot.