The 2016 candidates on energy policy
Renewables funding, coal power, EPA regulations — where do the candidates stand?
The 2016 presidential election is already shaping up to be a crowded field — with more than a dozen Republicans and about half as many Democrats.
With so many candidates declared, I thought it would be a good idea to scour their websites for any mentions of energy policy. I have included all candidates from both parties who have officially launched their campaigns as of the time of this writing.
Common issues these candidates put themselves on either side of include hydraulic fracturing, renewable energy funding, climate change, the Keystone pipeline, EPA regulations and energy development on public lands.
Lincoln Chafee — Former Rhode Island Governor
On his official campaign website, Chafee said “Responsible environmental stewardship can coexist with economic strength,” and his site mostly discussed environmental protection.
“The Northeast has the nation’s highest energy costs and I know the importance of balancing protection of our environment and making rational decisions on energy infrastructure. This same respect for people’s livelihoods extends to all economic sectors of our country,” according to his website.
Hillary Clinton — Former Secretary of State, Former U.S. Senator
Clinton’s site has a section titled “Power the economy of tomorrow,” which mentions that every two minutes, said American household installs solar power. Her site calls for the U.S. to become “a clean energy superpower.”
“America must lead the world in developing and deploying new clean energy sources that will power our economy, protect the health of our families, and address the global threat of climate change,” according to Clinton’s site. “States, cities, and rural communities are investing in a future built on clean and efficient energy that spurs small business growth, reduces pollution, creates good jobs, and lowers energy bills.”
Martin O’Malley — Former Maryland Governor
O’Malley’s website says, “Now is the time for new climate leadership,” and contains a five-part plan for promoting renewable energy.
The plan consists of: 1. Incentivizing clean energy production, “not fossil fuels,” 2. Provide a strong market for biofuels, 3. Train workers to join the clean energy industry, 4. Modernize the electric grid to support localized renewable energy generation, and 5. Support rural clean energy finance.
The plan specifically calls for a long-term extension of the production tax credit and investment tax credits, which are currently being debated in the Senate.
Bernie Sanders —U.S. Senator, Vermont
As background, Sanders cites his opposition to the Keystone natural gas pipeline and his involvement in the economic stimulus package that helped install energy efficiency upgrades and solar panels.
“The United States must lead the world in tackling climate change to make certain that this planet is habitable for our children and grandchildren. We must transform our energy system away from polluting fossil fuels and towards energy efficiency and sustainability. Millions of homes and buildings need to be weatherized and we need to greatly accelerate technological progress in wind and solar power generation,” according to Sanders’ website.
Jim Webb — Former U.S. Senator, Virginia
Having only recently announced his candidacy, Webb’s website was short on details and mentioned energy policy only tangentially.
There is mention of investing in the country’s infrastructure, but the electric infrastructure is not specifically noted.
Chris Christie — New Jersey Governor
According to Christie’s website, “we are in the midst of a North American Energy Renaissance.”
“The U.S needs to build the necessary infrastructure to get product to markets and ensure the smooth functioning of our energy markets, lift the ban on crude oil exports and allow markets to function as well as rationalize the country’s approach to regulation to make sure it is fair. We can also ensure the U.S can maximize its energy resources in an environmentally sound manner by developing greater technological capabilities,” according to his website.
Ben Carson — Neurosurgeon
Carson’s website focuses on issues other than energy policy and the environment. In public statements, Carson has called climate change “irrelevant.”
“Responsible human beings must be concerned about our surroundings and what we will pass on to future generations. However, to use climate change as an excuse not to develop our God-given resources makes little sense,” he wrote in a Washington Times editorial.
In the same op-ed, he wrote, “Many advocates of common sense are also very concerned about the environment but are reasonable enough to realize that rather than using Environmental Protection Agency regulations to stifle abundant energy production, we can use the EPA in conjunction with the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship to produce and export a vast amount of clean energy.”
Carly Fiorina — Politician, Former Businesswoman
Fiorina’s website does not discuss issues specifically, instead focusing on her biography. Ontheissues.org lists her as supportive of renewable energy tax credits, the Keystone XL pipeline, nuclear power, coal power, and an opponent of cap-and-trade energy legislation.
Rick Santorum — Former U.S. Senator, Pennsylvania
Santorum’s site says “Rick believes it’s time to revitalize manufacturing, processing, construction, and energy sectors of our economy again so America can once again thrive.” There are few specific policy stances on energy available.
As a candidate in the 2012 race, Santorum said at a debate in New Hampshire, “I also worked for a coal company. When I left the Senate, one of the big issues on the table was cap-and-trade, global warming, and I wanted to stay involved in the fray. So I contacted a local coal company from my area, and I said, look, I want to join you in that fight. I want to work together with you. I want to help you in any way I can to make sure we defeat cap-and-trade. And so I engaged in that battle. And I'm very proud to have engaged in that battle.”
George Pataki — Former New York Governor
Pataki’s site says the former governor is currently president of his own small business, The Pataki-Cahill Group, which works in energy, infrastructure and clean-tech.
According to The New York Times, Pataki was frequently involved in efforts to promote renewable energy and reduce power plant emissions, but he stopped short of specific legislation on these issues — instead preferring to let free enterprise work.
Scott Walker — Wisconsin Governor
At the time of this writing, Walker’s website contains nothing on his energy policy stances. In his most recent State of the State address, Walker said he would sue the federal government over proposed energy regulations.
“Top-down regulations and mandates from the federal government get in the way of innovation and growth in Wisconsin and states like ours. Therefore, I am working with our new Attorney General to prepare a lawsuit challenging the newly proposed federal energy regulations. These proposals could have a devastating impact on Wisconsin because we are so heavily dependent on manufacturing,” he said.
Marco Rubio — U.S. Senator, Florida
In his GOP Response to the 2013 State of the Union Address, Rubio said, “One of the best ways to encourage growth is through our energy industry. Of course solar and wind energy should be a part of our energy portfolio. But God also blessed America with abundant coal, oil and natural gas. Instead of wasting more taxpayer money on so-called "clean energy" companies like Solyndra, let's open up more federal lands for safe and responsible exploration. And let's reform our energy regulations so that they're reasonable and based on common sense. If we can grow our energy industry, it will make us energy independent, it will create middle class jobs and it will help bring manufacturing back from places like China.”
Also, while running for Senate, Rubio said he was against cap-and-trade policies on a federal level.
Lindsey Graham —U.S. Senator, South Carolina
In his “Achieve Energy Independence” section, Graham says America should run on American energy.
“We cannot afford to exclude any source of energy here at home, from shale to nuclear to clean coal to renewables. We must build the Keystone pipeline and increase oil and gas exploration in the U.S., and do so in a way that protects the air we breathe and the water we drink. This is a vitally important matter of economic security and job creation, but it also has significant implications for national security,” according to Graham’s site.
Mike Huckabee — Former Arkansas Governor
Huckabee’s policy page calls for a self-reliant U.S. energy policy.
“We have hundreds of years of available energy underneath our feet and all around us,” according to his page. “Partisan politics has kept us from Arctic exploration, energy opportunities along the Outer Continental Shelf, building the Keystone pipeline, and new sources of natural gas. Wind, solar, and renewable energy have great potential, occur naturally, and flow from inexhaustible sources.”
His website says Huckabee supports an all-of-the-above energy policy: “Oil, gas, wind, solar, biofuels, hydroelectric, nuclear, coal — anything and everything.”
Ted Cruz — U.S. Senator, Texas
As senator, Ted Cruz has given speeches in favor of what he calls “A Great American Energy Renaissance.”
“Yes, President Obama should drop his political opposition to the Keystone XL oil pipeline. But we also need to think bigger than a single pipeline. Here we stand at the edge of an energy revolution that is sweeping the nation, providing an untold number of new opportunities and well-paying jobs,” Cruz said at the Heritage Action for America’s 2014 Conservative Policy Summit.
Specifically, Cruz favors loosening federal regulations on hydraulic fracturing, repealing the renewable fuel standard, improving the process to develop energy infrastructure, excluding greenhouse gases from regulation by the EPA and increasing oil and gas exploration on federal lands.
Jeb Bush — Former Florida Governor
At a campaign event in New Hampshire, Jeb Bush said he favored phasing out government subsidies across the energy industry, including those for oil, natural gas, solar and wind power. “I don’t think we should pick winners and losers,” he was quoted as saying in the New York Times.
In 2006, as governor of Florida, Bush signed the Florida Energy Act, which established incentives for renewable energy production.
Donald Trump — Real Estate Magnate
While his campaign site does not mention energy policy, Trump’s public statements have been in favor of expanding fossil fuel exploitation and building out the nation’s infrastructure.
“Honestly, we’re taking oil from Canada. We’re paying Canada a lot of money. We don’t even need Canadian oil if we did it right. The really right way is to drill our own oil. We have so much of it we don’t know what to do. Between natural gas and oil and lots of other things, we should be doing our own,” Trump told Greta Van Susteren in an interview.
Bobby Jindal — Louisiana Governor
Gov. Jindal has released an energy plan that calls for, among other things, reserving national gas instead of selling it abroad and using it to fuel the manufacturing sector and keep energy costs low. He calls for gradually phasing out the federal biofuels mandate, and a certain funding mechanisms for renewables — though he does not support extending the production tax credit or the investment tax credit.
Whether or not climate change is caused by human activity, Jindal says, cutting power plant pollution, using less energy and encouraging renewable energy are things that nobody will regret doing.
Rick Perry — Texas Governor
Like Jindal, Gov. Perry has called the science behind climate change “not settled.” When he ran in 2012, the Texas governor said he wanted to put 1.2 million people to work in the energy industry.
“Clearly, opening up a lot of the areas of our domestic energy area; that's the real key. You've got an administration that, by and large, has either by intimidation or over-regulation, put our energy industry and the rest of the economy in jeopardy. And we've got to have a president who is willing to stand up and to clearly pull back those regulations that are strangling the American entrepreneurship that's out there,” he said during a GOP debate at Dartmouth College.
In his 2009 State of the State address, he also mentioned a program that would provide a $5,000 incentive for plug-in electric vehicles.
John Kasich — Ohio Governor
As governor of Ohio, John Kasich has proffered a detailed energy policy, which included reviewing the state’s transmission and distribution to see if it was adequate, allowing cogeneration to qualify as renewable energy, reviewing smart grid technologies and expanding consumer choice for renewable energy. His website for his presidential campaign does not have an issues section, however.
Rand Paul — U.S. Senator, Kentucky
The energy policy section of Rand Paul’s site says he favors new energy development, cutting red tape and lowering energy costs for consumers.
“Washington's bureaucratic regulations, corporate subsidies, and excessive taxation have made it unnecessarily difficult for energy developers to take advantage of new and innovative forms of cheap and clean energy,” according to Paul’s site. “Cutting the red tape and encouraging energy freedom, new technologies, and discoveries will be a priority in my administration. Like all other sectors of the economy, allowing businesses to compete in a free market will not only produce the most efficient forms of energy, but will also pass along the cost savings to the consumer.”