With 16 months left in his presidency, it’s difficult to identify what our current President has really attempted to address

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With 16 months left in his presidency, it’s difficult to identify what our current President has really attempted to address with our nation’s energy policy. There’s been frustration from both the energy industry and environmentalists with the policy that has been set to appease both sides. The end result has been animosity and frustration by all parties.

In August, the Clean Power Plan was bantered by supporters as our country finally taking social responsibility for the environment. The coal industry has argued that the new regulations will effectively put them out of business. Coal was already losing share in the U.S. electricity market, with natural gas overtaking it as the primary source for power generation earlier this year. This policy has been deemed a big blow for big energy.

Environmentalists 1, Big Energy 0.

Team Obama also recently approved crude oil swaps with Mexico. The exchange with Mexico provides another relief to the U.S. oil industry which has an overabundance of crude oil and is a direct result from growth in shale ventures over the past five years.

Now, with the Obama administration giving Shell final approval to resume drilling into the oil zone off northern Alaska, despite the company suffering an accident there during that year, has inflamed environmentalists and confused the general public on which policies are the real agenda of the President.

Big Energy 2 – Environmentalists 1

With the costs for alternative energy such as wind and solar dropping significantly, they have now (with the clean power plan) become a viable option for future infrastructure in American energy generation. The energy policy will most certainly accelerate the demise of coal, however, natural gas is already cheap and abundant in the U.S. thanks to new fracking technology, and is expected to dominate electricity generation for decades to come. With all eyes on a surge for renewable energy taking more market share, this is yet another big blow for big energy.

Environmentalists 2 – Big Energy 2

The Obama administration has recognized it can push policy towards both its environmental and economic goals. The President’s desire to achieve ambitious goals related to both economic growth and climate change has shown his desire to address concerns from both sides of energy issues facing our country. These actions have been criticized from all sides, which in many cases are the same people that applaud other energy decisions by this administration.

In December, the United Nations climate talks in Paris will be a benchmark in assessing exactly what direction the current administration has taken during Obamas tenure. The talks will reveal how the president plans to maneuver between dealing with interest groups who push for cuts in carbon emissions and our current Republican Congress that is staunchly against his current climate policy.

If his first 7 years in office are any indication, he will continue his balancing act right down the middle, upsetting both sides along the way.

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Matt Helland
Senior Vice President- North American Energy Advisory




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