The Missing Piece

about 4 years ago

The U.S. has not passed a comprehensive energy bill since 2007, yet our energy outlook has changed significantly since that time. Hydraulic fracturing allows us to extract vast reserves of natural gas. Wind and solar energy are increasingly affordable choices of power. Meanwhile the climate continues to change. As a nation, we are overdue for an energy policy remodel but efforts to pass legislation are moving slowly and progress is unlikely during this often politically contentious lead-in to Election Day in November 2016.

Our need for a modern day energy policy is significant because likely the next president will negotiate —and sign into law— the bill that shapes our energy future. With that monumental task on the proverbial to do list, it is of vital importance for the candidates to share their respective energy visions now, as they seek the support of voters nationwide.

In September, Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush revealed a three-part energy framework focused on fossil fuels, silent on renewable energy. As president, he would lift the ban on exporting crude oil and restrictions on natural gas, approve the Keystone XL pipeline, and repeal the Clean Power Plan, current rules regulating carbon emissions from power plants. Sen. Marco Rubio, who also hails from the Sunshine State, unveiled last week a plan that eerily resembles Bush's.

Notably missing from both blueprints is an alternative to regulation for ensuring a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Absent are details on the role renewables play in the "energy revolution." And that omission is coming from two candidates from a solar-rich state who don't deny the science of climate change or mankind's contribution to warming.

But at least they have a plan. Aside from Ohio Gov. John Kasich, whose similarly structured energy framework also includes smart grid and advanced battery technology research, none of the other top tier candidates have outlined their energy vision, though low-polling Sen. Lindsey Graham recently described his proposed approach to a low carbon economy at the No Labels convention in New Hampshire.

Candidates can continue to ignore the issue, but climate change is not going away. As much as the shift in rhetoric from "I'm not a scientist" to "innovation over regulation" is refreshing —and a relief— with so many presidential hopefuls to choose from, the race is calling for a leader to step forward to distinguish him or herself from the pack with a strong free enterprise climate action plan.