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Jessica Ruane

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Which Presidential Frontrunner Is The Best For Energy?

Which Presidential Frontrunner Is The Best For Energy?

The future of America's energy policies will heavily depend on who our next president is. Each presidential candidate has strong views on energy policy. Both democratic candidates Sanders and Clinton strongly support the need to move towards developing clean and renewable energy sources. On the other side of the aisle, republican frontrunners Trump and Cruz have taken the opposite stand, and they want to focus resources solely on more drilling, fracking, and lifting regulations on nuclear power and domestic energy exploration. So for those who have a vested interest in crude oil, you're likely going to side with the stance of the republican candidates. If you're all for renewables, the democrats share your vision.

As you know, the factors that influence oil prices are complex, but the amount of oil the U.S. can produce is a major one. Each candidate has strong opinions (and policies) on domestic drilling, so our next POTUS could dramatically affect the way this industry swings in the future.

Here’s where each of the four strongest presidential candidates stand on energy policy in America.

Related: Iran Aims For Highest Oil Production Since 2008

Bernie Sanders

"I will work toward a 100 percent clean energy system and create millions of jobs. We have little time to aggressively cut carbon emissions. Transitioning to a 100 percent clean energy system for electricity, heating, and transportation is possible and affordable. It will create millions of jobs, clean up our air and water and decrease dependence on foreign oil."

Sanders is the candidate for environmental enthusiasts. Mother Jones called him the “best candidate on climate change.” He has also been endorsed by national environmental organization, Friends Of The Earth.

His Plan:

• Ban offshore drilling, Arctic drilling, natural gas exports, and mountaintop removal coal mining

• Stop attempts to lift the ban on crude oil exports

• Ban fracking through the U.S.

• Expand access to solar and wind energy

• Invest in geothermal energy

• Halt nuclear power plant license renewals in the United States and invest in wind, solar, and geothermal energy solutions

Track Record:

• Introduced bills like the Residential Energy Savings Act, the Green Jobs Act, and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program

• His Low Income Solar Act would provide loans to solar developers to give low-income families access to solar power

• Helped form a public-private partnership, Efficiency Vermont, and Burlington, Vermont became the first city in the U.S. to run off 100 percent renewable energy

• Has partnered with the National Guard to improve military energy efficiency to make Vermont a leader in clean-energy

• In 2011, Bernie announced a three-year, $15 million federal commitment to open the first-ever New England national laboratory

How Oil Prices Would Be Affected

Sanders is by far the most aggressive candidate against oil. The only fossil fuel subsidy he supports is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that helps low income families with their heating bills. If his plan were passed, the U.S. would be unable to drill, frack, or export oil and natural gas. Therefore, the price of crude oil would likely increase.

Hillary Clinton

"On my first day as President, I'll set two big goals. I want the U.S. to have half a billion solar panels by 2020. And I want us to generate enough renewable electricity to power every home in America in the next 10 years. With the right investments, we’ll create good-paying jobs and make America the world’s clean energy superpower."

Clinton is a big supporter of solar. The prominent environmental group, League of Conservation Voters, has endorsed her. While certain aspects of Hillary Clinton’s background may be questionable, she is making a strong push towards renewable energy sources. Related: Choking And Lifting Preventing The Decline In U.S. Shale?

Her plan:

• Have every U.S. home powered by renewable energy by 2027

• Ban offshore drilling

• Implement $30 billion plan to help coal communities transition away from coal production and move towards developing clean energy

• Implement a three-month gas tax holiday, where the 18-cent per gallon federal tax on gas between Memorial Day and Labor Day would be lifted

• Impose a "windfall profits tax" on oil companies

• Begin negotiations for a North American Climate Compact between the United States, Canada, and Mexico

• Set ambitious emissions reduction goals

• Develop common infrastructure standards across the continent

• Invest in low-carbon transportation

• Set continent-wide reduction standards for methane

• Work to strengthen national pipeline safety regulations

• Create a new national infrastructure bank to invest in new infrastructure projects

• Make the federal permitting process for clean energy more efficient in order to expand access to it

Track record:

• Has come out against the Keystone pipeline

• Repeatedly voted for legislation that extended the production tax credit for electricity produced from renewable energy sources

• Proposed making current tax credits for wind and solar production permanent

• Has been criticized by environmental groups for supporting fossil fuel production and failing to take a strong stance on lifting the ban on exporting crude oil

How Would Oil Prices Be Affected?

Clinton has been very careful not to upset big oil. This is probably because her campaign has received million from fossil fuel lobbyists. She also supports natural gas. For the most part, she's played nice with the oil industry, so prices probably won't be too affected, although her recent swing to the left on many environmental issues has oil companies worried that they'll lose an ally. It remains unclear whether her stronger environmental policies are just a ploy for votes, or if these are lasting changes.

Donald Trump

“I'm in favor of nuclear energy, very strongly in favor of nuclear energy.”

“We are going to bring the coal industry back 100 percent.”

His Plan:

• Remove the cap and trade tax that the Obama administration has passed

• Wants to use the natural gas in the Marcellus Shale

• Plans to cut off U.S. support in Libya unless they give the U.S. 50 percent of their oil for the next 25 years

• Wants to lift permitting restrictions on drilling for oil, and heavily increase drilling in the U.S.

• Wants to build up domestic supplies of oil and natural gas to reduce our dependence on OPEC, which he blames for the volatility in global oil prices

• Increase fracking

• Supports the Keystone pipeline

• Make major improvements to the country's infrastructure

Track Record:

• Has described wind energy as "not good economically" and “destroying shorelines all over the world"

• Legally fought to prevent the construction of wind farms in Scotland, and won a lawsuit to stop an offshore wind farm in Ireland

• Said wind farms are "disgusting looking, but even worse they are bad for people’s health"

• Said that solar energy is an "unproven technology"

• Has been criticized for failing to give specifics on his energy policies

• Has denied global warming

How Would Oil Prices Be Affected?

Trump has stated that one of his primary goals as president is to drive down the price of oil. The viability of his plans is questionable, to say the least. With recent statements that he wants to "cut the head off of ISIS and take their oil," and his vow to break up OPEC, it's hard to imagine any of his proposals being implemented.

Related: $67 Oil Has All The Majors Converging Here

Ted Cruz

“According to the satellite data, there has been no significant global warming for the past 18 years."

"We are on the verge of an American energy renaissance, and I will lift the regulations that are prohibiting exploration, the Keystone pipeline, and job creation."

His Plan

• Increase "responsible energy exploration" including fracking, offshore drilling, and building the Keystone pipeline

• Broaden energy development on private land

• Block the Obama administration's “Clean Power Plan,” a set of regulations that would impose stricter requirements on power plants

• Reduce America's dependency on foreign energy sources, and increase the exploration of domestic energy reserves

• Allow states to control energy resources on federal land

• Shrink the power and size of the federal government by eliminating federal regulations and policies surrounding energy

• Abolish the IRS, the Department of Energy, the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development

Track Record

• As a Senator, he authored the American Energy Renaissance Act which was designed to reform and improve our national energy policy by reducing government intervention and improving access to our natural resources

• Included in this legislation is a provision to prohibit the federal government from regulating greenhouse gas emissions

• Voted against a five year extension of the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC)

• Vocal critic of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandate, a federal program that requires transportation fuel sold in the U.S. to contain a minimum volume of renewable fuels, and has introduced legislation to phase out RFS over the course of five years

• Signed the No Climate Tax Pledge: "I pledge to the taxpayers of my state, and to the American people, that I will oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue."

• Signed the Contract From America to stop new regulations on climate change

How Oil Prices Would Be Affected

The oil and gas industry has invested heavily in Ted Cruz's campaign. He's in good standing with the industry in his home state of Texas, which was responsible for 40 percent of all U.S. oil production in 2014. With his vow to increase domestic oil production through drilling and fracking, the price of oil would likely fall under his leadership.

Regardless of who you side with, it's important to look closely at each candidate's track record on energy policy, and understand the legislation they want to put forward. The direction of energy policy in America depends largely on who gets elected president. Will we invest in wind and solar? Or will we double down on offshore drilling and fracking to shore up our supply of oil and natural gas?

By Jessica Ruane for Oilprice.com

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