By Jennifer Connolly
August 17th, 2012
Energy policy is having a surprising moment in the political spotlight in the middle of a presidential campaign that everyone assumed would center on the economy, jobs, healthcare, taxes, and a little more of the economy. Barack Obama and his staff are touting the wind industry as the next great provider of jobs while Mitt Romney is telling anyone who will listen that Obama’s environmental policies are killing jobs in the coal mining industry. The presidential candidates are bringing energy policy to the forefront. But, while the candidates may be using energy policy as their latest way to attack each other and win over swing voters, is Congress likely to implement any drastic changes to energy policy in the near future? Well, as Niels Bohr said, “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” However, we can take a few hints from some newly released scholarly research which suggests that the answer may depend less on who wins the election and more on whether there is a major energy shock (such as a drastic increase in gas prices or a major electricity shortage) to spur politicians to action.
Energy policy is highly technical and the costs and consequences of new policies are often rather immediate, or at least evident, within one or two election cycles. Many politicians, in their never ending quest to avoid blame for unpopular or costly policies, don’t really want to touch energy policy with a ten foot pole, so long as there isn’t a major energy shock resulting in continued public outcry for them to “do something.”
About the Blue Pencil
In publishing, blue pencils were traditionally used by editors to mark copy. Scholarly research is extremely relevant to current policy debates, but it is rarely edited with the goal of making it easy to understand for the average news consumer. With this blog, Dr. Connolly takes scholarly articles and condenses, summarizes, and recaps them to make them quick and easy to understand.