This Election, Energy Challenges Swept Under Rug


"This election season, neither party's energy positions are saying much."

Tackling carbon emissions (and a push for alternative fuels) was considered an early priority of the Obama administration, and the House even passed "The American Clean Energy and Security Act" in June 2009.

That bill, focused on cutting carbon emissions via cap-and-trade and promoting of an end to fossil fuel dependence overall, has languished in the Senate for over a year. As economic recovery sputtered and Democratic approval ratings fell, GOP senators who once co-sponsored climate change legislation, like Sens. Lindsay Graham (S.C.) and John McCain (Ariz.), backed away from any energy bill with cap-and-trade, claiming it would hurt the feeble economy.

Meanwhile, oil-state Democrats like Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) straddled the fence, claiming potential job losses could result.

In this election season, neither Democratic nor Republican energy positions are saying much about cap-and-trade, and energy sector analysts say climate change policy may be a non-starter for years to come.

Although some environmental and progressive groups blame Pres. Obama and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill for not pushing the issue, worldwide momentum on carbon emissions reductions came to a grinding halt.

Natural gas development, often discussed as a cleaner energy choice to reduce carbon emissions and the nation’s dependence on coal and oil, also languished, as climate change arguments faded and gas prices stayed at historic lows.

Development of onshore gas fields, like the Northeast’s Marcellus Shale, got bogged down in state and local political battles over land owners’ rights and environmental impacts, giving Washington little appetite to provide direction.

Stable oil and gasoline prices prices have kept consumers quiet and the pressure off Washington but any new stimulus spending could potentially mean big bucks for the energy sector.

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