by Mike Mulvihill
As the presidential election season ramps into a full-tilt boogie, energy will be a topic perking toward the top of the national discussion. While the GOP candidates beat up on one another, the incumbent come this November is beating the energy drum.
While perusing Facebook, I was greeted by an online banner ad for Obama’s campaign touting the current administration’s progress:
- In 2010 domestic crude oil production reached its highest level since 2003.
- In 2010 natural gas production reached its highest level in more than 30 years.
- The U.S. has become a net exporter of fuels for the first time since 1949.
- A five-year offshore leasing plan will make more than 75 percent of undiscovered oil and gas resources off our shores available for development.
- Electricity generation from wind and solar increased nearly 71 and 40.3 percent between 2008 and 2010, respectively.
- The Obama administration issued a conditional loan guarantee for the construction of the first nuclear power plant to be built in the United States in decades, providing enough clean energy for 1.4 million people.
While it is certainly arguable how much of a role the current administration played in much of these accomplishments, I do have to credit Obama’s stated approach, as recently affirmed in his State of the Union address, “This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy.”
Oddly enough, Virginia’s Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, in his State of the Commonwealth address on January 11, invoked the same “all of the above” energy strategy. (So this approach has a hope of being one of the few bi-partisan initiatives in the country right now.)
What does an “all of the above approach” include? Coal, natural gas, nuclear and renewable/alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, hydro, geothermal and biomass all fall under this umbrella. While he didn’t say much about coal in his SOTU address, Obama reiterated support for offshore natural gas and shale natural gas exploration, and included a call to arms to not concede the clean-energy race to China.
While I have blogged about the impact of China’s nationalistic, government funded/protected approach to green energy development, elsewhere in the world business continues to boom in the global clean energy sector: Reuters reported that deals in the solar, wind, and energy efficiency industries netted a record $53.5 billion last year – up 40 percent from 2010.
The “all of the above” strategy was also reinforced by last week’s Energy Information Administration Annual Energy Outlook for 2012. EIA projects that between now and 2035 natural gas production and natural gas powered electric generation will increase to 27 percent of electric generation from 24 percent. Meanwhile, coal is projected to continue to be our primary source of electric power at 39 percent, but this figure is well below the 49 percent seen as recently as 2007. The balance will be absorbed by additional green power production from wind, solar and other renewable sources. As a result, carbon dioxide levels are projected to remain below 2005 levels through 2035.
All in all, the body of information would indicate that we are making progress in “turning the QE” of national power and energy consumption to reduce coal dependency, reduce foreign oil dependency, increase use of renewables and hold or reduce greenhouse gas emissions. All in all, I would categorize the “all of the above” approach and the progress being made as pretty encouraging news. Now if we can just get a new tax code put in place.