Ten Energy & Environment Questions That Should be Asked During the GOP Debate

1)  Cutting rates and simplifying the tax code is a top priority for many Republicans. In order to reduce rates in a fiscally responsible manner, legislation would arguably need to eliminate a number of tax incentives. Yet many energy companies, from oil and gas producers to renewable energy producers, rely on a variety of tax incentives for their operations. In the context of tax reform, how would your administration determine which existing energy tax incentives to support and which to oppose?

2) Do you support overturning the existing ban on crude oil exports?

3) Historically, the U.S. has been a leader in nuclear energy technology. With China prepared to bring more than over 20 new nuclear reactors online in coming years, do you support renewing the expiring Section 123 agreement that the U.S. has with China? If not, how would you work to ensure that the U.S. nuclear sector can take advantage of the expanding market for nuclear services in China and throughout Asia?

4)  According to a 2008 U.S. Geological Survey report, the Arctic contains 13 percent of the world’s untapped oil reserves and 30 percent of the its natural gas reserves. With these resources, there is increasing competition between the eight Arctic nations to make use of them. But development of these resources poses logistical and environmental concerns, as well as worries about Russia’s aggressive posture in the region. How would your administration balance energy development, environmental protection and geopolitical considerations in the Arctic?

5) If you are opposed to EPA’s Clean Power Plan, what steps would you take to mitigate CO2 emissions from U.S. power plants?

6) Last month marked the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history. According to leading scientific reports, extreme weather events are going to continue to increase in severity over the coming years due to climate change. Given the significant economic costs associated with extreme weather events, not to mention the loss of human life, how would your administration improve the U.S.’s resiliency to hurricanes and other deadly storms?

7) Canada is the U.S.’s largest trading partner and Mexico is our third-largest trading partner. These trading relationships extend to energy, particularly with respect to Canada. Should the U.S. work with Canada and Mexico to develop an approach to energy security that leverages the three countries’ oil and gas resources, renewable energy capacity and technological expertise?

8) California and other Western states are dealing with severe droughts. What is the proper role for the federal government in easing the water shortages in California and addressing the competing interests between agricultural and residential uses of water?

9) The federal government has historically played an important role in funding research on innovative energy technologies that may not be mature enough to attract private investment. Would your administration support funding for federal energy research programs such as the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy?

10) The U.S. has abundant energy resources, whether it be wind and solar power or oil and gas resources, but the nation needs transmission lines and pipelines to transport these resources to market. However, these infrastructure projects often face vigorous local opposition. How would your administration encourage the development of energy infrastructure, while at the same time addressing localized concerns about these projects?


Andrew Shaw is a Managing Associate at Denton’s Public Policy and Regulation practice, where he focuses on energy and environmental law and public policy. 

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