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Businesses Bullish on Obama Energy Policy

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Photo courtesy of www.barackobama.com

Businesses Bullish on Obama Energy Policies

A recent survey of small businesses suggests that owners are not generally opposed to the Obama Administration’s energy and environment initiatives.  The survey, commissioned by the American Sustainable Business Council and administered by Lake Research Partners, shows considerable support across party lines for policies and goals aimed at heightened energy efficiency and investment.

Almost 80 percent of respondents agreed that the government should be setting goals to increase energy efficiency by 50 percent over the next decade.  Remarkably, even 76 percent of self-described Republicans were in favor of this overall goal supported by the Obama administration.

The suggested methods of reaching those goals were favored by a majority of respondents from both parties.  Those methods included:

  • Encouraging banks to consider environmental benefits when considering new business loans (supported by 57%)
  • Requiring all electric utilities to generate at least 20% of electricity from clean sources by 2020 (supported by 63%)
  • Ending subsidies for oil and corn based fuels (supported by 77%)
  • EPA requirements that existing power plants must reduce carbon emissions (supported by 63%)
  • Ending subsidies for the coal, oil and gas industries (supported by 62%)

These responses are in line with many of the energy and environmental initiatives supported by President Obama, as stated during two speeches given at Georgetown University in 2011 and 2013. President Obama has directed the Federal government to first model new efficiencies.  Some directives include: US military bases are directed to install 3 gigawatts of renewable energy; the Federal government automobile fleet is directed to be 100 percent biofuel, hybrid or electric by 2015, and enough public lands are to be opened to generate wind and solar power for six million additional homes by 2020.

In terms of direct investment, a substantial portion of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA: also called the “Stimulus Plan” or “Obama Stimulus”) went to fund both public and private sector efficiency upgrades as well as research and development into new technologies.  Over $75 billion of ARRA funds were dedicated to loans, grants, and tax credits benefitting energy efficiency and environmental conservation.  Specifically, this includes $2 billion in grants for research and development of more efficient batteries that can store energy for both new electric cars and energy generated by solar and wind sources.

New regulations have also been enacted to spur greater energy efficiency.  Gas mileage standards for US made automobiles are to be raised to 35.5 mpg by 2016.  There are also new requirements aimed at increasing energy efficiency by 20 percent on all new commercial buildings by 2020.

Survey respondents do seem to be at odds with the Obama Administration’s policies in at least one area.  Obama stated, “… [the U.S.] should strengthen our position as the top natural gas producer …”  One of the implied ways the US would do this is by exploiting gas deposits via hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.  Fracking practices have been controversial for years, and still is as 80 percent of survey respondents indicate that there should be EPA requirements for companies to publicly disclose all chemicals used in the fracking process.

One interesting note about the poll’s administration: at no point was President Obama’s name used in the questioning.  It seems unlikely that his policies would enjoy such widespread support, especially among many self-identifying Republicans, if his name were to be attached to the policies.  Maybe we can take a lesson that, however polarizing a presidential figure may be, it is the administration’s inherent policies that warrant the actual consideration.

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  • Don Lovell

    What no mention of the crony capitalism that sucked most of the ARRA funds designated for energy efficiency into ruinous companies that payed to play. WTF!

    • Scott Shugarts

      Hi Don,

      I really intended to write more about how Obama’s energy and efficiency policies are supported across the political chasm which is our two-party system. As to your concerns about the use of ARRA funds, I can say that all applicants and recipients are subject to the requirements in terms of qualifications and reporting. How the administration of the funds was handled, or indeed if such large public investment in private enterprises is wise or warranted, are certainly valid concerns and worthy of conversation. However, that’s probably a conversation best had in a different forum.

      • Don Lovell

        Scott,

        You are right about the support of the two parties it is, at this point in history a novel thing. From a financial standpoint we should have done much more in EE rather than renewable energy. It is clear that EE is our best and cheapest source of energy but it did not have the ability to align money behind it. Solar PV was just far to sexy a thing and that is where most of the investments went, and that is solely due to crony capitalism. I think that is a very big part of the conversation in any forum that seeks to discuss EE.

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