H-Energy Roundtable: American Election 2008, Presidential Candidates' Energy Plans
When oil prices reached the record price of around $147 a barrel in July 2008, energy was poised to be one of the dominant issues during the 2008 American presidential election campaign; reminiscent of the energy debates of the 1970s. Both presidential candidates, Democrat Senator Barrack Obama and Republican Senator John McCain, produced comprehensive energy plans embracing the idea of "energy independence," a term often used by both Democrats and Republicans, and first coined by President Nixon and his "Project Independence." In an effort to appear to be doing something about the high oil prices, the House, in mid-September, passed offshore drilling legislation, but it still needs to be passed by the Senate. However, the sudden international economic downturn in September quickly sent energy issues to the backburner, with nearly all the attention of the campaigns focused on how to deal with the economic crisis.
With the very real fear of a recession, oil prices fell precipitously in October to the mid-$60 a barrel range. The lower price of oil, and the consequent lower prices at the gas pumps for Americans, has taken the immediate edge off consumer demands for reducing America's "addiction to oil." Despite the economic crisis and the current lower oil prices, energy is still an important issue in the presidential election. Indeed, Republican vice-presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin gave a speech on energy policy in Ohio on 29 October 2008. She argued that even though oil prices were falling Americans should not become complacent about energy, and energy independence still ought to be pursued for the long-term security of the United States. The _Wall Street Journal_, on 28 October 2008, also sought to remind voters that energy was a significant issue and ran an article that briefly compares the two presidential candidates' energy plans. The editors of H-Energy also believe that energy is an important issue in this election, and has parallels to past policy ideas and choices.
With this in mind, the editors of H-Energy asked five energy historians to comment on and compare specific elements of the two presidential candidates' energy plans with an eye to the history of these issues in American policies. The five issues identified are: offshore development, energy and climate change, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), energy efficiency and conservation, and alternate energy sources. Dr. Tyler Priest, Director of Global Studies at the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston, and author of _The Offshore Imperative_, will discuss the issue of Offshore Drilling with a brief mention of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) controversy. Dr. Brian Black, Associate Professor of History and Environmental Studies Co-Coordinator at Penn State Altoona and author of several books on energy and the environment, will discuss the issue of energy and climate change. Dr. Bruce Beaubouef, editor of _PipeLine and Gas Technology_, and author of _The Strategic Petroleum Reserve: U.S. Energy Security and Oil Politics, 1975-2005_, will discuss the issue of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). Dr. Robert Lifset, Donald Keith Jones Assistant Professor of Honors, Joe C. and Carole Kerr McClendon Honors College, University of Oklahoma, will discuss the issue of energy efficiency and conservation. Dr. Frank Laird, Professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, and author of _Solar Energy, Technology Policy, and Institutional Values_, has agreed to discuss the issue of alternate energy sources. When we have received his piece it shall be posted to the list. Apart from posting each brief article to the discussion list, each article will follow in a separate post, you can also find them in printer-friendly format on the roundtable section of our H-Energy website: http://www.h-net.org/~energy/roundtables/henergyroundtables.html.
We welcome and look forward to any comments our subscribers and contributors wish to make. Let the debate begin!
For Senator Obama's energy plan see: http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/newenergy
For Senator John McCain's energy plan see: http://www.johnmccain.com//Informing/Issues/17671aa4-2fe8-4008-859f-0ef1468e96f4.htm
For Sarah Palin's energy speech see: http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/News/Speeches/ebd65519-bf44-447b-a2d5-f73d138c032b.htm
For the Wall Street Journal's energy comparison see: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122515084360974157.html