With yesterday's general election behind us, people across the United States are considering its impact on energy policy. From President Obama's retention of the White House to state elections and ballot measures, voters have reshaped the energy landscape. Here are some highlights:
- President Obama wins reelection. Obama's win may mean "more of the same" when it comes to energy policy. President Obama has indicated support for increased domestic production of natural gas and oil, as well as for programs to encourage the development of renewable electric generation. While the U.S. Department of Energy remains under scrutiny for loan guarantees it offered companies like Solyndra, Obama's reelection likely means that the Department of Energy will not face as strong a shakeup as it would have under a President Romney. Still, many observers expect Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to be replaced. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will likely continue to develop regulations covering energy-related emissions such as ozone, coal ash, and sulfur from fuels. These regulations have effectively been on hold pending the election. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson may continue to lead the agency. Likewise, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has indicated his desire to remain Secretary of the Interior; in Obama's second term, the Department of the Interior is likely to continue its current course in leasing land for oil and gas production as well as for renewable energy production.
- Congress remains divided. At the federal level, Democrats held onto control of the Senate, while Republicans retained control in the House. The chambers' partisan nature may lead to gridlock, or at least to consensus-based, relatively moderate measures as the only kind of legislation likely to meet the approval of both chambers of Congress.
- Michigan rejects constitutional amendment on renewable energy. Michigan voters rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have increased the amount of renewable energy that utilities must buy to serve their customers. Proposition 3 would have required electric utilities to generate at least 25 percent of their annual retail sales of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025. Only 36% voted in favor of the measure to increase the renewable portfolio standard, meaning the RPS initiative failed.
Other election results, ranging from congressional races to state governor contests, will also shape energy policy in 2013 and beyond. People and businesses that can react quickly will be in a better position to capitalize on the election results.