Presidential Candidates Talk Renewable Energy During Acceptance Speeches


During high-profile speeches at the recent Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention, President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney have now offered additional previews of their respective plans for future energy policy in the U.S.

Although only Obama specifically mentioned solar energy, both candidates noted the role of renewable energy in furthering the U.S.' path toward energy independence.

‘By 2020, North America will be energy independent by taking full advantage of our oil and coal and gas and nuclear and renewables,’ Romney said during his Aug. 30 acceptance speech for the Republican nomination for president, according to official transcripts.

Energy independence was also a highlighted theme of Romney's recently released white paper on energy policy, which was largely praised by the Solar Energy Industries Association.

In his acceptance speech, Romney criticized Obama's ‘assault on coal and gas,’ which he said will ‘send energy and manufacturing jobs to China.’

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan delivered more sharp criticism of Obama's energy policy, specifically mentioning bankrupt thin-film PV manufacturer Solyndra during his acceptance speech.

Ryan disputed the effectiveness of the Obama administration's investments in renewable energy and other components of his 2009 stimulus package.

Stimulus funds, Ryan said, ‘went to companies like Solyndra, with their gold-plated connections, subsidized jobs and make-believe markets.’

‘The stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare and cronyism at their worst,’ he added. (An August report from the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee, which conducted a prolonged investigation into Solyndra's U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantee, concluded that Obama's administration violated laws and failed to act in the public's best interest when finalizing and administering the loan guarantee. These findings were disputed by senior Democratic committee members.)

During his Sept. 6 acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination for president, Obama defended his record on energy.

‘In the last year alone, we cut oil imports by one million barrels a day – more than any administration in recent history,’ Obama said, according to the official transcript. ‘And today, the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in nearly two decades.’

He pointed out that the U.S. has doubled its use of renewable energy and expanded clean-energy manufacturing jobs under his administration.

Advocating for the all-of-the-above energy policy presented in the Democratic Party's official 2012 platform, Obama called for continued investment in solar power and several other forms of energy.

‘We're offering a better path – a future where we keep investing in wind and solar and clean coal; where farmers and scientists harness new biofuels to power our cars and trucks; where construction workers build homes and factories that waste less energy; where we develop a hundred year supply of natural gas that's right beneath our feet,’ he said.

As the November presidential election draws closer, watch for continuing coverage on the candidates' plans and promises for the solar sector.

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