Last week, Mitt Romney released a comprehensive energy plan. While taking a backseat to the economy and job creation, energy issues have been discussed regularly by presidential candidates Romney and Barack Obama, and their viewpoints diverge widely. In its online magazine, conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute broke out the core issues that separate the candidates:

Planned vs. free market energy economies: Obama wants more federal funds going toward clean energy, especially wind and solar power, and to stop giving tax subsidies to oil companies. Romney is advocating more of a free-market model, repeating the conservative attack on federal investment in the Solyndra solar energy company that later went bankrupt as an example of how Obama's policies are failing. He would rather see policies in place that promote more traditional energy sources like oil, gas, coal, and nuclear.

Energy affordability: The article makes a statement that Obama's cap and trade policies and strong Environmental Protection Agency mandates on greenhouse gas emissions reduction are possibly being done to gain support from wealthy donors concerned with radical environmentalism. According to AEI, "In contrast to Obama, Romney remains wary of higher energy prices and plans to unleash the free market as a prime means of cost containment by allowing already successful industries like drilling to flourish."

Energy Independence: Both Obama and Romney agree that freedom from Middle East oil imports is something to embrace. They differ in opinion in how to bring this about – Obama is pushing strong federal government leadership to gain energy independence, and Romney is advocating a free market approach that includes more support for oil reserve drilling in the U.S.

The liberal blog Daily Kos notes that Romney's energy policy plan completely ignores the idea of climate change: "Not once is the word, 'climate,' mentioned. But the plan would, Team Romney claims, create three million new jobs. While renewables would get bupkis, the big five oil giants alone would get another $2.3 billion annually in tax breaks."

Nonetheless, Romney's policy was cheered on by the Renewable Fuels Association and the Biotechnology Industry Organization because it supports the Renewable Fuel Standard that sets federal standards for ethanol and advanced biofuels production. Obama has been supportive of RFS, as well.
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BIO Thanks Romney for Supporting Energy Security and Standing Firm on the Renewable Fuel Standard

Washington, D.C. (August 24, 2012) –The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today thanked Gov. Mitt Romney for his stated intention to "support increased market penetration and competition among energy sources by maintaining the RFS" in "The Romney Plan For A Stronger Middle Class: ENERGY INDEPENDENCE," released yesterday.

BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood said, "The Renewable Fuel Standard is the bedrock policy supporting the emergence of advanced biofuels. The United States is at a critical juncture in the development of advanced biofuels, which are poised to make a real contribution to energy independence and security. Companies across the United States have made substantial long-term investments in building new biorefineries. The first commercial gallons of cellulosic biofuels were produced this year and the first large-scale biorefineries are set to begin production soon, adding to those gallons. Additional large-scale biorefineries are under construction, with production ready to begin within the next few years.

"Stable support for the Renewable Fuel Standard at the federal level provides assurance to these companies that their investments will come to fruition. Innovative biofuels have already brought competition among energy sources to the marketplace and lowered prices for consumers. Further, construction and operation of biorefineries will continue to generate new employment opportunities."

About BIO

BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world's largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world. BIO produces BIOtechNOW, an online portal and monthly newsletter chronicling "innovations transforming our world."