For the alternative fuel movement the 2012 election cycle had its ups and downs. While progress was made in some fields like electric vehicles (EV); other fields such as solar power were left with a tarnished reputation. Politically, a line was drawn clearly in the sand separating the ideological views of conservatives and liberals in terms of their option on the current state of alternative fuels in the United States. With President Obama reelected it seems that the current support for alternative fuels will continue. One would think that it would mean that cries for fiscal responsibility from the right will not be far behind; however that might not be the case.
Both conservatives and liberal know that the United States must server it ties of reliance to foreign oil. During the 2012 election cycle conservatives took a stance that providing federal funding to the alternative fuel sector was wasteful government spending in a time of economic uncertainty. This stance was not taken without good reason; a number of alternative fuel companies that took federally backed loans defaulted, shut their doors, and fired their employees.
To conservatives, the Obama administration made a number of large and bad bets in the alternative fuel field at an inopportune time. Liberals, however, saw the federal funding as almost an indispensable risk – not all of the companies were going to make it but the ones that did could usher in needed mainstream alternative fuel solutions and offer cutting edge high paying jobs in emerging markets.
With President Obama reelected it seems that the current support for alternative fuels will continue. Congress has already asked for a comprehensive energy bill, which there has not been since 2007. Controversial hydraulic fracking has increased in the United States and the Department of Energy will soon be issuing a report examining the impact of increased exportation of American gas. America is pushing to become known as one of the world’s top fuel producers, not just a consumer.
Climate change has been knocking on the door of the American life for decades. Recent droughts and super storms have snapped much of the American public to attention of the harsh reality of climate change. Obama did not win the election because this was the hottest summer on record, or because of Super Storm Sandy which was the largest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. But President Obama did acknowledge global warming at a press conference, something that the majority of his conservative opponents do not even think exists.
For the alternative fuel market this is a big deal. The majority of America has only recently been impacted by the negative effects of climate change – the heat and the massive storms have been in our face and unavoidable. When scientists and the president are connecting these environmental changes to climate change and global warming people listen and that transcribes to buying a Prius over an F150.
So where are we now? Well, from a policy stand point, really in the same spot we were before the election. There was no real large shift in the House or the Senate. Obama is president again. The economy is still not great. Taxes and tax cuts are still a hot button issue. The Middle East is on fire. Gas prices are still high – even though that has nothing to do with who is president.
What has changed is the ideology of the majority of the nation. The public is tired of the in party bickering and the dramatic slide to the far right by the Republican Party. In response John Boehner rolled over on the fight against Obama Care saying that the American people have spoken. Newt Gingrich has come out to say that the GOP is off message with the concerns of the American public. Conservatives that made outlandish claims concerning women’s health were voted out of office by the people.
The GOP is in the midst of re-calibration in order to connect to the voting public. In other words, the ears of the GOP are now open to the entire nations’ concerns and not just those concerns of the one percent. Does this mean that the GOP will back the Obama administration’s very pro alternative fuels agenda? It might; but the American public will need to speak up.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison