Opinion: Romney and Obama energy policies are decadent and depraved

Brian Reimer

Brian Reimer

Brian Reimer is a senior anthropology major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

When President Obama visited Kent State a few weeks ago, he outlined his plan for the future of American energy. Obama mentioned that we should harness the natural gas underneath our country in effort to curtail America’s “addiction to foreign oil.”

This was, in reality, code for promoting a touchy issue in Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania: hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” for short. It involves blasting the subterranean rock layer with highly pressurized “fluid” (see: toxic chemicals). By fracturing the rock layer, previously inaccessible hydrocarbons can be extracted. Throughout this process, the fracking fluids penetrate groundwater, which is eventually pumped by wells and enters your home through your faucet. Groundwater that has been exposed to fracking fluids is likely carcinogenic and flammable—just what I want to drink and bathe in.

In the same breath, Obama advocated promoting “clean coal.” Don’t make me laugh, Mr. President. Any rhetorical assertion that the burning of coal for energy can be “clean” is ridiculous and is an opinion likely formed under the influence of the massive coal lobby.

“Clean coal” plants capture wasted carbon dioxide and sequester it into the ground. That’s not avoiding CO2 pollution, but rather just diverting it to another waste stream. This irresponsible rhetoric will likely lead to the construction of more coal electricity plants and only act to further the daunting environmental challenges my generation and generations to come must face.

Despite Obama’s seemingly incompetent national energy policy, Mitt Romney is no saint. In fact, Romney’s energy plan includes none of the good, all of the bad and even worse positions than Obama’s energy plan. Romney not only supports fracking and “clean coal” like his opponent, but he also has probably the most ridiculous and outlandish stance of the election.

Romney has stated multiple times that he wishes to amend the Clean Air Act to take away the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. This stance is so seeped with the depraved influence of the big oil and coal companies that it makes me sick.

Carbon dioxide is undoubtedly a major contributor to global climate change, and any attempts to dodge the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions are not only irresponsible, but also insane. On top of all of this, Romney also advocates a drastic reduction in the United States’ future investment in renewable energies.

When it comes to our presidential candidates’ national energy and environmental policies (and, in my opinion, most other issues), the people of the United States deserve better. It’s a sad fact that money, not what’s best for our nation and the environment, controls the agendas of presidential candidates.

Both Obama and Romney’s energy policies were obviously crafted by the special interests and corporations that have plagued the environment for years. So this election, energy- and environment-minded voters get to choose between two energy policies that have no real moral or scientific grounding. One plan is just a little more insane than the other.