The Republican Candidates On Alternative Energy and Electric Vehicles

We know where our Democratic President stands of Electric Vehicles (EVs) and alternative energy thanks to President Obama’s State of the Union Address. But where do the remaining Republican challengers stand on such issues? We here at Gas2 decided to find out.

The current state of America is not great. The housing market has not returned, unemployment is high, and the price of good just keeps going up. To top things off 2012 also happens to be a Presidential election year – so that means not a lot of is actually going to get done on the real issues and instead all eyes are going to be on the race.

Currently there are four Republican candidates squaring off against one another for a chance to take on President Obama. The candidates are former Massachusetts Governor Willard Mitt Romney, former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Texas Senator Dr. Ron Paul, and former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania Rick Santorum.

Different people from different background and all with different ideas on many issues; but for the sake of our interests here at Gas2 let’s look at where each candidate stands on alternative fuel use and the growing EV market.

Willard Mitt Romney

On the issue of alternative fuels, Romney gives importance to achieving the targeted goal of American energy independence so that America can free itself from reliance on oil rich countries.  At the same time, energy independence will aid America in becoming an economic and military superpower. Essentially through energy independence in Romney ‘s eyes America can do what it has to do without worrying about fuel or energy related consequences associated with the actions.

“The United States must become energy independent. This does not mean no longer importing or using oil. It means making sure that our nation’s future will always be in our hands. Our decisions and destiny cannot be bound to the whims of oil-producing states…” Romney said.

As for what kinds of alternative fuels Romney as listed as viable for the US, really for Romney just about everything is on the table. Nuclear energy, biodiesel, ethanol, and natural gas are all worth exploring for the Romney Camp. Additionally Romney has suggested exploiting domestic sources of oil such as the Outer Continental Shelf and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. With the use of alternative fuels Romney believes the nation will also have to invest a lot into research and innovation. The areas that will need heavy investment include fuel technology, power generation and materials science with a focus on clean technology and more efficient power generation.

Mitt Romney is taking the safe road when it comes to his stance on alternative fuels. That safe road is saying that America’s dependency on foreign oil is bad and needs to stop, the solution for Romney is not set in stone, nuclear power or natural gas whatever works. What this does for Romney is not pigeonhole him within the alternative fuel markets. However, it is also not a clear plan.

This scatter shot approach to the alternative fuel issue is not uncommon for the Republican candidates as will soon be shown.

However, where Romney does stand out from the other candidates is on his stance that having America kick its foreign oil addiction will lead to an even stronger military. Romney has repeated time and time again his idea that having the strongest and largest military in the world will act as a deterrent from foreign aggression. This stated mixing of alternative energy and military muscle is a unique stance amongst the Republican candidates and one that Romney believes in.

On the issue of EVs, Romney has raised some eyebrows with comments that he has made. In an interview with The Detroit News, Tesla spokesperson Ricardo Reyes commented, “[It is] unfortunate that Gov. Romney is using Tesla as a political tool and he’s wrong. We’re creating American jobs.”

Reyes was commenting on a piece Romney wrote in which he said,

“Tesla’s next vehicle is expected to list for $57,400. Fisker’s car, already a year behind schedule, will cost $97,000. “We have a history of losses and we expect significant increases in our costs and expenses to result in continuing losses for at least the foreseeable future,” says Tesla’s most recent quarterly filing.

And neither firm has created many jobs. So far, approximately 100 workers are employed by Fisker in Wilmington, Del., while an additional 500 are actually assembling the cars in Finland. Tesla’s record is only slightly better. Even these few jobs may be illusory: studies of Europe’s green job experiments have found that each new green job destroys several other jobs elsewhere in the economy.”

 This is an interesting departure from research approach that Romney has championed for regarding alternative fuel use and energy independence. On one hand Romney is saying that as a nation, America needs to explore all alternative energy options. But on the other hand, Romney is saying that the “European green job experiment” is no good for the United States.

The underlying factor for Romney is not that EVs are bad and that there is no market for them, as some other Republicans have said. For Romney it comes down to money. Romney is a capitalist and a successful one at that. For Romney companies live and die depending on the actions they take. On the American auto industry bailouts Romney said,

“It would have been best not to have had the president and government put their hands on the bankruptcy process … Bailouts are not the answer.”

The same goes for making EVs. Romney does not care that a company like Tesla is making an EV. From a capitalistic standpoint Romney is looking at Tesla and saying go for it, make the EVs and if they do not sell and Tesla goes away so be it – it’s the risk of doing business in the American market. What Romney does not like is the $1 billion USD in federal loans that companies like Tesla and Fisker took to create a few hundred “green jobs”.

Newt Gingrich

“Contrary to popular belief, America has more energy than any nation on earth. All that’s keeping us from becoming energy independent is a lack of political will to do so.” – Newt Gingrich

Gingrich has been in politics a long, time first arriving I Washington DC representing Georgia’s 6th congressional district in 1979. Gingrich is unique amid the other Republican candidates in regard to his alternative energy policies because Gingrich has actually written a book in which he details his plan. The book is titled A Contract with the Earth.

A Contract with the Earth details ways in which Gingrich would address almost every green issue facing America today. Within his book Gingrich comes out strongly in favor of nuclear energy and domestic oil drilling, he also recognizes the need for federal tax incentives that encourage clean energy choices, specifically singling out electric cars and renewable resources. Gingrich digs deep into federal agencies and policy and would replace the EPA with a more economically driven organization called the Environmental Solutions Agency. Gingrich has also written Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less: A Handbook for Slashing Gas Prices and Solving Our Energy Crisis.

At one of the latest CNN Republican Debates Gingrich said,

“We ought to have a massive all-sources energy program in the United States designed to, once again, create a surplus of energy here, so we could say to the Europeans pretty cheerfully, that all the various sources of oil we have in the United States, we could literally replace the Iranian oil.”

Gingrich’s approach to green issues combines solutions that the two major parties have put forward in the past. Interestingly, Gingrich’s emphasis on consumer choice, weak government control, and private enterprise reflect a gathering of Republican, Democrat, and even Libertarian proposals; and his “all options on the table” solution is the same solution taken by Romney.

Gingrich, however, is not all talk and thought on issues. Gingrich has put his proposals into action in the past most notably as was one of the sponsors of the Endangered Species Act. In fact, Gingrich record and reputation on the wide range of green issues is, arguably, clearer than any other candidate in the 2012 race — Democrat or Republican.

On the Gingrich website his energy plan is even laid out.  

As for EVs, Gingrich has outlined their positive use in many of his environmentally and energy focused books. While Gingrich has shied away from mentioning the benefits of EVs as of late, his past published works in which he uses EVs as an example of viable clean energy solution speak for themselves.


 Ron Paul

Ron Paul is a Libertarian through and through. As a Libertarian, Paul’s aim is to minimize federal government action in virtually every aspect, and that includes the energy and environmental fields.

Libertarian’s reason that the government has no business controlling or regulating what persons or firms do with their money, because of this system of thought Paul has been labeled by some as a non-green, however such labeling is inaccurate.

While Paul is “still open” on the question of global warming, Paul is not anti environment or alternative energy and fuel, not bay a long shot. Being a Libertarian Paul thinks that each state should pass their own environmental laws not the federal government – take the power away from the federal government and pass it off to each state plain and simple.

Paul supports nuclear, wind, solar, and any other forms of energy production. However, he opposes subsidies to them as he does not believe that the federal government has the right to take money from one person to subsidize the energy desires of another. Thus Paul is anti carbon tax as collected by the federal government. However, if a state put into effect their own carbon tax Paul would be fine with that because this would leave the business being hit with the carbon tax the option of moving to another state that did not have a carbon tax. Liberty.

In the past, Paul has noted that protection of the environment is not a function that the Constitution allows the federal government to perform. He has therefore called for an end to the EPA. To address any possible pollution, Paul has stated that private property rights should function in this aspect as no man has the right to pollute another person’s land, water, or air. He notes that if government regulation of the environment were removed and ill environment effects were addressed on a private property level, then the cost of any pollution would be built into the cost of that particular energy model. The best energy model would then prevail and would be the one that best balances the cost to bring the product to market and the effects it has on the environment.

Yes, it is a bit messy but on the issue of alternative energy Paul summed up his feeling through a post on his website:

“…I do not support providing federal grants to any industry, I do support the tax credits contained in the NAT Gas Act, HR 1380. These credits reduce taxes for the production or purchase of vehicles that run on American-made natural gas. These credits are not subsidies. Of course, we should repeal federal barriers to energy production and reduce taxes on all forms of energy. Therefore, I have also introduced the Affordable Gas Price Act HR 1102 which would remove governmental barriers to offshore drilling, encourage private investment in new refineries and suspend taxes on gasoline when the price at the pump reaches a certain threshold. Lowering taxes to encourage the domestic production of energy and getting government out of the way of the American energy market is not a government giveaway; it is the way it should be in a free country.”

On the issue of the EVs, Paul has not really said anything specific. But by understanding the Libertarian views and playing by the Libertarian rules we can see where his opinion would likely fall: If a company wants to invest money and attract outside investors into building and selling EVs that is fine – but there will be no federal involvement, monetary or otherwise, what so ever.

Rick Santorum

First off, Rick Santorum does not believe in global warming and, as a Senator, voted exclusively against reducing emissions or pollution, including voting against funding of renewable energy, voting to end CAFÉ standards and voted against reducing oil usage 40% by 2025. Santorum was rated a 0% by the League of Conservation Voters. Yikes.

On his campaign website, Santorum said the country needs

“…an all-of-the-above energy policy that uses oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy to power our economy and empower the American worker.”

As with Romney and Gingrich, Santorum is taking the safe (scatter shot) road in regards to alternative energy policy and an energy independent America.

Additionally, Santorum does advocate ending roadblocks to oil exploration and stopping new natural gas regulations.

“We will open up energy in America, whether it’s ANWR, whether its coal mining, whether it’s drilling, we will have a free market of energy production. And we will lead the world and we will have stable, long-term energy prices.”

Santorum has said that he would phase out all energy subsidies and opposed creating incentives for different forms of energy that the government supports.” Santorum voted against ethanol subsidies while in Congress and in a June 2011 debate in New Hampshire, Santorum said he believes the ethanol industry is mature enough to survive without them.

Santorum also supports offshore and Arctic drilling for oil.

“It is absolutely essential that we have as much domestic supply of oil, that we build the Keystone pipeline, that we create the jobs that — that that would create, and provide oil from domestic sources.

Different from the other Republican candidates, Santorum is a major supporter of coal. For some time Santorum was a consultant, being paid $142,500 from 2010 to August 2011, to Consol Energy one of the largest coal mining companies in the United States.

While Romney has attacked EV manufactures and Gingrich has written books promoting their use, Santorum has been rather mute on the topic. Santorum is, however, a proponent of ethanol use in vehicles, saying that all U.S. vehicles should be required to burn ethanol and other bio fuels in addition to gasoline while speaking to the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association, even though he voted against ethanol subsidies while in office.

Overall the four remaining Republican candidates have different views on EVs – some negative, some positive, and some none at all. However, all of the Republican candidates are for alternative fuel use and American energy independence…which is the same thing that every President since Dwight Eisenhower has said.

If nothing else, it is important to know where the Presidential candidates stand on America’s energy future. If anything will define this nation in the coming years, it will be the looming energy crisis. Whoever is elected President in November needs to have a clear, concise plan, but it is up to voters to figure out who truly has America’s best interests at heart.

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


Andrew Meggison

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. 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