The U.S. has an energy crisis on its hands, and there’s no simple way to solve it. That’s what former staffers from the Bush and Obama administrations said at the National Ethanol Conference in Orlando, Fla. In a polarized political climate, it can be challenging for Democrats and Republicans to agree, but former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs found common ground on energy.
During a debate hosted by the Renewable Fuels Association, Rove and Gibbs agreed that dependence on foreign oil is a national-security risk that must be a priority.
Gibbs said oil is increasingly “a local commodity,” with energy demand forecast to rise in the decades ahead, particularly in China. When demand gets so high, countries will be less likely to export their oil. Meanwhile, the U.S. has only 2% of the world’s oil resources. Gibbs said rising gasoline prices should alert the public that for national security, the U.S. must find other sources of energy. He supports expanding all forms of energy production and pointed to increased oil and natural gas rigs, four times more than when President Barack Obama took office, as evidence that his former employer is serious about the issue.
Rove said the Obama administration has had little to do with increased domestic oil and gas, saying the industry expanded on its own — despite the administration’s policy — thanks in part to development of the hydraulic-fracturing drilling technique. He praised the ethanol industry for its resilience in 2011, when opponents called for the end of tax incentives. Instead, the industry allowed one of its incentives, the Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, to expire. Rove said the industry has proved itself a benefit by lowering gasoline prices and creating jobs.
Gibbs and Rove also discussed the presidential election in November. Both agreed that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will win the Republican nomination. However, Rove predicted that Romney will win the presidency because of voter impatience with Obama, while Gibbs said the president will win a second term because GOP candidates are not focusing on issues that voters truly care about.