Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Obama's and Romney's Energy Advisers: A Study in Contrasts

As reviewed in an article by Elisa Wood , there is a profound difference between President Obama's energy advisor and Republican nominee Mitt Romney's energy advisor. Harold Hamm is part of team Romney while Heather Zichal is in Obama's camp.

Hamm made his fortune from oil, his academic qualifications consist of little more than a high school diploma. By contrast, Zichal has worked as an intern for the Sierra Club while at Rutgers University. Her meteoric rise in Washington's policy ranks took a little over a decade.

Hamm is the chairman and CEO of Continental Resources and one of the richest men in America. He is an enthusiastic supporter of more oil and gas drilling, or as he refers to it, an "American renaissance." Hamm wants to less federal regulation and he wants to give states more say in environmental regulation. Hamm does not believe that the federal government should be involved in environmental regulation.

Zichal is a 36-year-old Iowa native is known for welcoming views and inviting the opinion of others. "She is collaborative to a 'T'," said Melinda Pierce, lead lobbyist for the Sierra Club, where Zichal worked as an intern while studying environmental policy at Rutgers University. After graduating from Rutgers in 1999, Zichal worked as an aide on Capitol Hill and she also served as top energy and environmental adviser for Kerry's 2004 presidential bid.

Zichal has worked with Obama since his inauguration and she became deputy assistant for energy and climate change in early 2011. She is described as a savvy political strategist with a quick intellect and deep grasp of the often complex energy world. Some claim that Zichal had a role in Obama's fuel economy standards and restrictions on mercury emissions from power plants.

Zichal has been an advocate of climate change legislation and cap and trade. "Pricing carbon throughout the economy creates the incentive for small entrepreneurs and multinational corporations alike to seek out and exploit the lowest cost ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions," she told the Business Council for Sustainable Energy in October 2009.

More recently she has been focusing on extending the wind production tax credit, set to expire at the end of this year. Zichal is on record supporting cuts to oil subsidies and energy efficiency. Although she is an advocate of renewable energy she also supports natural gas.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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