Marine Hydrokinetics and Renewables in the 2012 Presidential Election

Marine Hydrokinetics and Renewables in the 2012 Presidential Election

by Andrew Keene
Editor’s Note: What can marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) technology developers expect from the two presidential candidates?   Not surprisingly, MHK does not play a significant role in either the Republican or Democratic party platforms if only because it is still an emerging technology.  However, MHK development may be impacted by each party’s position on renewables as well as each candidate’s broader philosophy on energy policy and issues such as the role of public funding, incentives for private investment and the appropriate balance between development of conventional and emerging technologies.  OREC isn’t taking a side in these debates, but we’ve presented a summary of each party platform on energy to help inform our members about the upcoming election.
As the election moves nearer, one of the more prolific aspects of this race is what either candidate will do in terms of how they manage the United State’s natural resources and implement new renewable technologies. Environmental management plays a crucial role both economically and ecologically for the future of this country and so this is a decision taxpayers will not want to get wrong. The following report takes a look at the energy plans for both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.  A direct link to the Republic energy platform is here and to the Democratic energy platform here.
Republic Party – Mitt Romney


The Republican Party vows to submit a regulatory reform of the already instated energy policies within the United States. Mitt’s primary concerns are within the policy of the Clean Air Act. Romney would ensure that this policy no longer includes carbon dioxide so that the USA can continue to harvest its abundance of natural resources such as coal, oil and natural gas (of which the US is #1 in the world for trading and supply).

In addition, companies that have immaculate safety records will be allowed a streamlined approval in newfound areas for drilling and production. This will greatly decrease the time it takes for organizations to apply for drilling permits and thus production in pre-approved areas can begin earlier.

The USA is not only #1 in natural gas production, but it is currently #2 in crude oil production, just behind Saudi Arabia. Studies have shown that the USA could become solely independent on domestic crude oil resources by the end of the decade. Romney would impose surveying of federally owned lands and open these reserves for production. Romney’s plan would also support the construction of the Canadian-American pipeline, in order to help move oil with efficiency into the United States.

Whilst most Romney’s plans revolve around the deregulation of already imposed oil-gas and coal restrictions, funding would be rewarded to the organizations who continue to improve clean coal and shale gas technologies. Minor investment will also go towards support of basic research on alternative energy’s such as wind and solar, as a long-term strategy for decreased supply of fossil fuels.


Democratic Party – Barrack Obama


Obama’s Democratic Party is holding strong with the notion of ‘80% clean energy independence by 2035’. Obama’s energy policies are greatly concerned with increased research and development of renewable resources as well as subsequent job building. Obama promises to take 150 billion dollars out of oil subsidies and use the money to support renewables. This money will be aimed to support technological advancement of already known solar and wind technologies, as well as research into lesser-known technologies like hydrothermal, wave and tidal.

Obama’s plans want to move America away from oil dependence and closer to renewable energy innovation. Expanding an economy of supply, manufacturing, maintenance and research in the field of renewables energy would not only create 75,000 jobs initially, but it could also have a ripple effect long-term which would expand the US economy to more environmentally driven one.

Obama’s policies would regulate and honor proposed emission standards set by other leading production companies around the world to restore the quality of the air we breathe and allow the earth to heal. Dependence on foreign oil would also be cut-off, and cleaner coal implementation would be promoted as a short-term strategy as the ‘easing affect’ begins.

Obama would continue his support of the Wind Production Tax Credit, granting grants and tax relief schemes to organizations that are manufacturing turbines and rotors for wind energy production. This will encourage the use of alternate energy, making wind and other sources more attractive for businesses and industry, and thus building a market for the resource.


On paper the two parties have very different strategies for the environment. Whilst both platforms are adamant on preparing the United States for energy independence, the two parties have taken opposite directions on how they plan to achieve this.