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Debate: Obama Backs Green Energy, Romney Backs Black

Obama’s green energy policies and Romney’s preference for coal and tar sands oil were apparent in their first presidential debate in Denver.
 
 
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Photo Credit: Kathy Mackey/Flickr

 
 
 
 

DENVER, Colorado, October 3, 2012 (ENS) – The deep division between President Barack Obama’s green energy policies and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s preference for coal and tar sands oil were apparent in their first presidential debate tonight in Denver.

Challenged by Obama to explain his plan for the country if he is elected on November 6, Romney replied, “My plan has five basic parts. One, get us energy independent, North American energy independent. That creates about four million jobs.”

Obama responded, “On energy, Governor Romney and I, we both agree that we’ve got to boost American energy production, and oil and natural gas production are higher than they’ve been in years. But I also believe that we’ve got to look at the energy sources of the future, like wind and solar and biofuels, and make those investments.”

“So all of this is possible,” said Obama. “Now, in order for us to do it, we do have to close our deficit, and one of the things I’m sure we’ll be discussing tonight is, how do we deal with our tax code? And how do we make sure that we are reducing spending in a responsible way, but also, how do we have enough revenue to make those investments?”

After the two candidates sparred about who gets taxed and how much and how deficit reduction is to be accomplished, the debate turned again to energy production and its environmental consequences.

Romney said, “Energy is critical, and the president pointed out correctly that production of oil and gas in the U.S. is up. But not due to his policies. In spite of his policies.”

“Mr. President,” said Romney, “all of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land, not on government land. On government land, your administration has cut the number of permits and licenses in half. If I’m president, I’ll double them, and also get the – the oil from offshore and Alaska. And I’ll bring that pipeline in from Canada.”

The pipeline Romney refers to is TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline that would carry diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Late last year, President Obama rejected TransCanada’s first application for a presidential permit, required for a transborder pipeline, in part because House Republicans were pushing him to approve it before the State of Nebraska had settled on a route that would protect the environmentally sensitive Ogllala aquifer that supplies drinking and irrigation water to eight Midwestern states.

In September, TransCanada submitted a new route for the project and the Alberta-based company has reapplied for a presidential permit.

Romney was not accurate in his statement that “all of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land.”

Instead, according to an analysis of government data released in February by the right wing energy think tank Institute for Energy Research, “In FY2011, oil and natural gas production on federal lands declined from their 2010 levels: oil production on federal lands declined by 11 percent and natural gas production on federal lands declined by 6 percent. Meanwhile, there was a 14 percent increase for oil production on private and state lands and a 12 percent increase for natural gas production on private and state lands.”

“Natural gas production on federal lands in FY2011 declined by 27 percent from its FY2009 level, when it peaked at 6.82 trillion cubic feet, while natural gas production on state and private lands increased 28 percent over that time period,” the Institute’s analysis shows.

 
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