President Obama has been pressured from several different directions regarding climate change and environmental action. His pending approval of the Keystone pipeline as well as policy regarding greenhouse gas emissions is making it difficult to placate both sides of the spectrum. Climate change activists are fervently against the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and demand more strict emissions standards for power plants. Many environmentally conscious people would not be happy if he approved KXL, and if he did, they would expect him to take a hardline position on other environmental issues in lieu of that decision.
On the other side of the issue, manufacturing, energy and petroleum industries would benefit greatly from KXL, and the President’s determination to become energy independent would move closer to becoming a reality. However, if he imposes rigorous greenhouse gas emissions standards industry leaders would be angered. At this point it’s sufficed to say that a political falling out will likely occur. Obama cannot satisfy everyone and if he wants to strongly lead the energy movement, he will have to lead to one side or the other.
It seems that even though he obviously wants to satisfy environmental groups and come down on climate change, but he still has to consider the weakened state of the economy. The fact of the matter is, big business and the energy industry create and provide jobs. It would be illogical to disadvantage the oil and gas industry. In any case, it is possible for the new energy industry can be stimulated while simultaneously the oil and gas industries are still supported.
Similarly an energy proposal in the State of the Union, which has caused a good deal of buzz, is the Energy Security Trust. This takes a certain amount of revenue from federal oil and gas production and directs it to research for renewable fuel technology. It is a form of revenue sharing, meant to spur investment in electric and natural gas powered cars, biofuels, and solar energy.
This could be advantageous depending on how it is handled. If petroleum production on federal lands was less regulated production could increase, creating more revenue generated, and therefore more money would be available to put towards new energy research without significantly hindering either industry or economy. However, the White House has restricted the production of oil within the past few years. In the words of Colorado Representative Cory Gardner, “The Energy Security Trust isn’t going to have much money in it if the president continues to block development of energy on federal lands… If you’re a red tape salesman in this country, you’re doing very well.”
This revenue sharing proposal could work, but there needs to be certain concessions. The government cannot restrict oil production as well as take more revenue on top of that. In the end there does not need to be a melodramatic struggle between environmental advocates and businessmen. Not everyone can be completely satisfied, but congress and the White House are capable of working together to develop a moderate energy plan that does not involve heavy regulation, severe emissions cutting, or ignorance towards renewable energy progress.