⭐🔥 Click here to check Latest Celeb News & Celebrity Gossip in 2022! 🔥⭐
The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Can Obama’s Energy Plan Satisfy Progressive Voters?

Katya Ryder
News
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Sep 23, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama (campaign photo)
Sen. Barack Obama (campaign photo)

This is the first part of a two-part series on energy. Part 2 will focus on the GOP.

With a housing market in shambles, unemployment on the rise and increased talk about recession, the economy is a top concern for voters in the rapidly approaching presidential election. Among the many economic woes facing Americans, the high price of gasoline is among the most daunting — especially for the middle and working classes, which are being hit the hardest.

As the polling gap between Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama tightens, voters across the political spectrum want to know which candidate will better address energy issues.

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin
Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

Many Democrats and progressive independents say that Obama has what it takes to address energy issues head on. But some progressives fear his policies are too centrist for their taste, and environment advocates express doubts he can meet their standards. On the campaign trail, his vocal support of nuclear energy, “clean” coal technologies and now offshore drilling have raised red flags for some Americans who identify as liberal.

When it comes to energy, Obama may be a man with a plan, but is it the right plan for progressive voters?

The League of Conservation Voters, a watchdog environmental group, says yes. Josh McNeil, the group’s spokesman, says progressives want what Obama keeps talking about: change. “Progressive voters — and all voters — are looking for a real change in the way we use energy in this country,” said McNeil. That means moving away from oil and toward solar and wind, he says.

McNeil says his conservation-minded voters see Obama as showing a “real commitment to energy efficiency, improving fuel economy in our cars and making massive investments in wind, solar and geothermal — the types of energy that will create real energy independence and protect our planet.”

Voters are also concerned about high gas prices. A major worry among progressives, says McNeil, is that oil companies may be benefiting at the expense of working-class Americans. Those voters seem to trust that Obama will address their concerns. “His plan makes a lot of sense,” McNeil said. “Exxon made the highest profits of any company in the history of the world this year. Obama has proposed to take some of those profits and give them back to consumers; and use some of those to invest in [alternative energies]. That’s an immediate solution. It directly helps consumers.”

But there are areas in which progressives are split. One that’s been the focus of much attention on the campaign trail is offshore drilling. Though many progressive voters adamantly oppose drilling, more Democratic and independent voters are starting to support it. A poll by Rasmussen Reports finds that about 37 percent of likely Obama voters support offshore drilling — versus 90 percent of likely McCain voters.

Obama, too, has said he is open to drilling as part of a larger energy package — in a move some labeled a “flip-flop.”

But there are other liberal groups who back Obama despite his new-found support of offshore drilling. Michael Huttner, the executive director of Progress Now, the largest online progressive organization in Colorado, speaking of those who call Obama out on this, insists that this is a case of Democrats and progressives getting it wrong, not Obama selling out.

“Ultimately, it’s up to the progressive movement and organizations to give [Obama] the sort of leverage he needs so he doesn’t have to compromise too much,” said Huttner. Since progressives aren’t doing that, he said, Obama is being pressured to cave to a poor policy decision. “I think putting our eggs in the offshore drilling basket is a mistake,” he said. “Offshore drilling is very limited in how it can change the market.”

Younger progressives constitute one group that clearly places emphasis on other kinds of energy exploration. Young voters are talking about developing alternative energy sources and promoting energy conservation, says Alexandra Acker, the executive director of Young Democrats of America, an activist political group for those under age 36. “Exploration in the form of alternative energy is where young people are focused,” Acker said, “wanting more innovation, wanting to incentivize, figuring out how we can harness solar energy in the Southwest and wind energy in the Northeast.” She says the group sees Obama is the candidate who plans to address those issues.

Like any other group, young voters are highly concerned about gas prices. Acker says that young progressives believe Obama will take on one major source of energy cost woes: the oil companies. “Some people,” she said, “are really disgusted by tax credits for oil companies and the potential price gouging that we’re seeing going on right now with fuel costs. I think they want to end ‘politics as usual.’ Barack Obama certainly is the candidate they believe can do that.”

While young progressives see both Obama and McCain as improvements to the current administration, says Acker, they point out that they don’t believe McCain has the solutions to help reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil. “It’s hard not to have a candidate who could be better on these issues than George Bush — who was such a disaster,” said Acker. “But, I don’t think John McCain is going to bring about the changes young people want when it comes to really dramatically looking at our energy system…He’s just so tied to special interests that he’s not going to want to give up our dependence on oil.”

It’s not just young people who feel that way, says Huttner of Progress Now. He points out that many progressives feel that McCain just doesn’t intend to help the country get off foreign oil. So even though they might not agree with Obama on every component of his environmental record, Huttner says, they agree with him more than McCain.

“There’s a fundamental difference in the direction between Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain in what their end goals are,” said Huttner. “I think Sen. Obama’s end goal — even though it’s not going to happen overnight — is to free us from dependence on foreign oil…That comes about through alternative energy. Some day we hope we’re reporting to Big Solar instead of Sen. McCain’s buddies and Big Oil.”

Yet, not all progressives are confident that Obama has taken a strong enough position on energy issues in his time as senator. Nor are they confident that he will take the lead on energy issues if elected president.

Another Denver-based group, the non-partisan Colorado Progressive Coalition, says this is true of voter perceptions of both presidential candidates. “Comprehensive work and real thoughtful work is still forthcoming from the Congress and the presidency,” said Carlos Valverde, the group’s co-executive director, “It’s something we’re still waiting for.”

But that is likely to soon change, Valverde said. “Whichever candidate is elected, energy will be a major priority for the administration,” he said. “[Action on energy] is something we’re still waiting for. There’s a full plate of items that these candidates are going to need to address in the first 100 days of the presidency…and it’s going to be hard to prioritize where energy sits.”

Katya Ryder | School teacher, earned National Board Certification in 2013 I have a passion for science and majored in biology at Arizona State University, where I also earned teaching certificate and Master of Education

Related

Rep. Patrick McHenry: Please, Conservatives, Fill Out Your Census Forms!

The conservative congressman from North Carolina, a constant critic of the census -- one of the people who sounded the alarm about politicization when the

Rep. Paulsen allies with medical device industry to relax FDA oversight

Source: Flickr; Republicanconference (www.flickr.com/photos/republicanconference) On the heels of the Minnesota Independent story last week about U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen’s cozy financial relationship with the medical device industry, the New York Times reported Tuesday that some health professionals are alarmed by Paulsen’s push to relax Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight

Rep. Parker Griffith (R-Ala.)

One of the most conservative Democrats in the House -- a freshman who said he couldn’t support Nancy Pelosi again -- is going to switch over to the GOP. Josh

Rep. Paulsen touts balanced budget constitutional amendment

In a post for the conservative blog True North , U.S. Rep

Rep. Paulsen, Karl Rove the latest to get ‘glittered’

Rep. Erik Paulsen and former Bush staffer Karl Rove were both showered with glitter at the Midwest Leadership Conference Friday

Rep. Paul Ryan to deliver SOTU response

Chairman of the House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union Tuesday, according to Mike Allen

Rep. Perlmutter criticizes House measure that would eliminate 800K federal jobs

Congressman Ed Perlmutter today issued a scathing statement criticizing the House of Representatives for passing a spending bill that could put nearly a million federal employees out of work. The Colorado delegation voted strictly on party lines, with all four Republicans voting in favor of the bill and the three Democrats voting in opposition. Perlmutter’s statement: “My number one priority is to get people back to work because that’s the best thing we can do to pay our debt and move forward toward economic stability

Rep. Perlmutter to hold constituent meet-up in grocery store

Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter will hold a Government in the Grocery constituent meet-up this evening from 5-7 at the Safeway at 38th and Wadsworth in Wheat Ridge. The address is 3900 Wadsworth. The meeting, where Perlmutter typically sits at a folding table and talks to whomever shows up, is free and open to the public

Rep. Peace, ACLU seek investigation of soldier’s allegations of racial discrimination in Afghanistan

Both Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) and the American Civil Liberties Union agree: There needs to be an investigation into Spc.

© Copyright 2022 The Washington Independent All Rights Reserved

Terms & Privacy | twi.news@washingtonindependent.com

⭐🔥 Click here to check Latest Celeb News & Celebrity Gossip in 2022! 🔥⭐