Which candidate is the ‘energy alpha-male’: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney or Ron Paul?

In Washington, similar to the wilds of the earth, there also exists an alpha-male hierarchy and the battle is raging.  Which candidate’s energy policy will prove to be the fittest and promote him to ‘energy alpha-male’? Photo: Jacquelyn Jaeger

NEW YORK, July 27, 2012 – Which candidate’s energy policy will prove to be the fittest and promote him to ‘energy alpha-male’?  In Washington, similar to the wilds of the earth, there also exists an alpha-male hierarchy and the battle is raging.  As the 2012 presidential election draws nearer, Americans are looking for the candidate that stands out from the rest of the pack; the one that can keep his members fed, protected and moving in the right direction.  We’ve heard from them on the economy/jobs, healthcare and foreign policy, but not so much on energy.

The ‘pride’ has repeatedly stated that the economy ranks high on the list of worries, and it just so happens that a huge sector of the economy is energy.  Energy impacts our daily lives on many levels.  All three candidates know that having a plan for energy that is superior to the others will attract new members to their respective ‘prides’, thrusting them to ‘energy alpha-male’ status. 

But before we begin our high-level journey on presidential energy policy, we need to ask some ridiculous but pertinent questions:

-  Will President Obama, like the mighty ram, jar his opponent’s skull into humiliating retreat?

-  Will former Governor Romney’s 14-point plan (or ‘rack’; as it’s called in some hunting circles), once firmly entangled with some other multi-point rack, prove victorious?

-  Will Congressman Ron Paul make submissive omega-pups out of his competition with his plan for energy?

In no particular order, looking at each candidate’s public campaign website, let’s review some of the stated energy plan highlights to see if a clear ‘energy alpha-male’ emerges from the pack.

President Barack Obama

President Obama states that under his ‘all-of-the-above’ approach to gasoline prices, solar and wind energy installations have increased and will be doubled in the coming years.  While this is technically true, bear in mind that permitting for the majority of these installations occurred long before 2008.  The interconnection process is long and arduous.  He can take credit for not holding up construction, but not so much for the installations themselves because most states have renewable portfolio standards that are attracting solar and wind developers.  If the bulk power systems can accommodate them operationally, renewable resources should be built across the country.

He goes on to say that drilling domestically will not lower the price of oil, because Middle East instability and world market pricing (in U.S. Dollars) is what’s causing the price to rise.   This is in contrast to unconventional wisdom, as it is known that the devaluation of the US Dollar is the main driver in rising oil prices based on statistical analysis

Furthermore, in one area of the plan he states: “increased production doesn’t lower gas prices” coupled with “More domestic drilling will never meet our energy needs.” Just below those quotes it is written that we need to: “Open new areas for oil and gas exploration,” both onshore and offshore.  Question: why bother opening new areas for oil and gas exploration when it was just announced a few lines up (in eye-catching, predator-attracting capital letters) that both increased production doesn’t lower gas prices and more domestic drilling will never meet our energy needs?  Perhaps the drilling isn’t to ease prices, but to lessen the need for Middle Eastern oil, and job creation here at home; more on that in a bit.

President Obama announces that more fuel efficient cars will save 2.2 million barrels of oil a day and will lower gas prices since the demand for oil will be lower.  As stated above, if increased production will not lower gas prices, why would less consumption lower them? After all, from a supply/demand perspective, unit for unit, increased production is the same as decrease in demand, and in many cases decreased demand has a more significant impact than increased production.  The answer is: it won’t.

Governor Mitt Romney

Next there’s former Governor Mitt Romney. Similar to his “Believe in America” plan for the economy, Romney is quick to point out the failures of the incumbent alpha-male before educating the reader on his energy policy.

Are Romney’s broad antlers sturdy and sharp?  His first action is to streamline/reform regulations in order to bring more oil and natural gas to the marketplace.  He proposes to streamline permitting, re-tooling environmental laws and expanding the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s capabilities.  This is a very difficult set of reforms.

This leads us to his second action, “Increasing Production.” While lower regulations and increased production sounds good, we know from President Obama’s site that and our unconventional wisdom that bringing more quantity to the marketplace will not ease prices.  Today, oil demand is low yet prices remain high.  The fact that he favors more production means he does not understand the true nature of high oil prices.

Lastly, Governor Romney wants to invest taxpayer dollars into research and development, but notes that government should not be picking politically favored approaches. We must ask who then, of the ‘pride’ or ‘elected pride’ will choose recipients?  If the answer is the DoE, the ‘pride’ should seriously consider if Gov. Romney knows anything of the history of the agency.

Congressman Ron Paul

Since Congressman Ron Paul has not dropped out, it’s only fair that his policy of “Energy Independence” also is reviewed.  The Congressman makes his first point that he (the government) cannot solve the energy problems we face; only the free market can.  He claims that subsidies, regulations, and excessive taxation only compound the current problems and he too seeks to remove restrictions and begin drilling domestically, as well as lifting restrictions on the use of coal and nuclear energy.  Since it’s clear that increased production will not lower prices at the pump, increased production will work to stimulate job growth for a few Americans. All three candidates have this “feature” going for their plans.

Congressman Paul would like to repeal the federal tax on gasoline, in which he claims would decrease the gas price by 18 cents per gallon.  He would like to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency, stating that polluters should “answer directly to property owners in court for the damages they create” and that Washington should not be party to these proceedings.  Finally, tax credits would be issued for those purchasing and producing alternative fuel technologies.  Will the less-is-more approach be appealing to the ‘pride’? History has shown that Congressman Paul has been right about a lot of things and now that his “Audit the Fed” bill passed the House this week, in the near future the Congressman may soon resemble E.F. Hutton.

There is yet one more candidate, Governor Gary Johnson, who is running on the Libertarian party ticket.  His campaign website is silent on energy policy therefore no summary can be provided.  Unfortunately, there’s no chance of becoming the energy alpha-male when you don’t explain how you’ll lead the ‘pride’.

So, after summarizing the candidate’s policies from a high level perspective, who do you think comes out on top as the ‘energy alpha-male’?  The ‘pride’ is hungry and will decide soon.

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Michael Jaeger

Mike Jaeger's column, Greater than Energy (">Energy") can be found under the Health and Science area of the Washington Times Communities and he has been writing this column since July of 2012.  He occasionally writes pieces on economics and politics as well.  He has expertise in energy, energy markets and energy production and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Applied Science and Technology in Nuclear Engineering Technology.


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