Boom times, not green
Both candidates are revelling in America’s abundant hydrocarbons. The planet, they feel, can wait
Oct 6th 2012 | from the print edition
AMERICA’S energy landscape is dotted with new landmarks. Drilling rigs have sprouted in North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Texas and many other places where oil and gas lurks in shale beds. “Fracking” has made gas dirt-cheap; oil output has climbed by 15% over the past five years. Optimists reckon it is only a matter of time before America produces all the energy it consumes. But the credit goes not to energy policy; technology and the market are responsible for this incredible shift. This thought is not lost on the candidates.
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both espouse similar policies, which boil down to keeping out of the way to ensure that the boom continues. But Mr Obama has the trickier electoral calculus: keeping the oil and gas flowing, with all its benefits for jobs and the economy, while trying to maintain the Democrats’ greener image. The environmentally minded are unlikely to vote Republican but may just stay at home, spelling problems for the president in a tight race.
Mr Obama has shifted with the tide. He happily takes the credit for boosting domestic oil output and encouraging natural-gas production, having called the fuels “yesterday’s energy” a couple of years ago while swooning over renewables. Mr Romney says that the president doesn’t “understand energy” and that his policies are “old and outdated”.
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