In outspending clean energy special interest groups by a five to one margin, big oil and gas gave most of its campaign money to Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election, thereby financing an aggressive effort to defeat President Obama, or at least press him to adopt policies that are friendlier to fossil fuels.
The President wasn’t helped by the fact that many of his former pro-wind and pro-solar power allies sat out the election because they were disappointed by what they’d gotten during the his first term.
While renewables, particularly wind energy, will get new attention during Obama's second four year stint, the President's re-election may also prove to be a boom to natural gas producers.
Here’s a handful of reasons why they were most likely smiling the day after the election:
1) Both oil and natural gas production cresendoed during Obama’s first term and there’s little to suggest that will slow down. It appears the U.S. is on pace to become the world’s lead oil producer as early as 2015. By 2035, domestic natural gas production is expected to double from 1990 levels.
2) The President has said he supports the The Natural Gas Act, also known as the Pickens plan, which includes legislation that would push alternative fuels over oil, including biofuels and electric cars—and natural gas too.
3) A Romney presidency would have pushed the EPA to get rid of its Air Toxic Rule, which put stringent limits on new coal-powered plants and emissions. If those new coal-fired plants aren’t built, the natural gas industry benefits by taking the business.
4) The strong CAFE standards the Obama Administration pushed for and won—54.5 miles per gallon by 2025—include incentives for natural gas vehicles.
5) U.S. carbon emissions have dropped to 1992 levels, attributed in part to energy efficiency efforts and the use of more cleaner-burning natural gas. That politicians from the President on down have linked the recent super storm Sandy with climate change means less encouragement for more coal and oil and more for natural gas.
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A six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council, Jon Bowermaster has spent the past two decades circling the world’s ocean, studying both its health and the lives of the people who depend on it. He is the author of 11 books (his most recent, OCEANS, Threats to Our Seas and What You Can Do to Turn the Tide, was published by Participant Media) and producer of a dozen documentary films. His blog—Notes From Sea Level—reports daily on issues impacting the ocean and us. Follow Jon on Facebook. @jonbowermaster | Email Jon | TakePart.com