60-Second Earth

Energy Hits the U.S. Presidential Campaign Trail

Romney wants "energy independence," Obama prefers an "all of the above" approach. What's the difference? David Biello reports

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney pledged to achieve North American energy independence by 2020 this week. That's a presidential move because every president since Richard Nixon has pledged some version of the same thing, including Romney's opponent President Barack Obama.

Obama's version is called the all of the above strategy: more domestic oil production to reduce imports. More electricity derived from wind, sunshine and natural gas added to the U.S. grid. Even more coal, as long as it has CO2 capture and storage attached.

Romney's plan differs only in the details. That increased domestic oil production should come from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other public lands, for example, as well as off the Eastern seaboard. Both candidates love biofuels, even ethanol from corn.

The candidates share another similarity as well: an inability to discuss climate change on the campaign trail. And global warming is one of the largest environmental consequences of U.S. energy policy or, for the past half century, the lack of a coherent one. Until issues like climate change are included in the discussion, any energy plan is just a lot of hot air.

—David Biello

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]


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