A contentious exchange over energy policy occurred early in Tuesday night’s second presidential debate in Hempstead, New York. While Gov. Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama of “keeping us from taking advantage of oil, coal and gas,” Obama continued to advocate for his “all of the above” plan to promote clean energy. “We’ve got to make sure we’re building the energy sources of the future, not just thinking about next year, but 10 years from now, 20 years from now,” he said.  (See the full transcript at The New York Times.)

The candidates sparred over, among other things, the Keystone XL pipeline, oil company leases, energy industry jobs, and the issue that perhaps hits home hardest for most Americans: gasoline prices. Romney essentially laid the blame for current gas prices (which are around $3.75 a gallon for regular fuel)  with Obama:  “The proof of whether a strategy is working or not is what the price is that you’re paying at the pump. If you’re paying less than you paid a year or two ago, why, then the strategy is working. But you’re paying more.”

But as others have pointed out, the U.S. president exerts very little control over gasoline prices, which are largely determined by the crude oil market. (See also: “Crude Reality: Gas Prices Rocket Because They Can“)

Which candidate do you think made a stronger case on energy policy? Weigh in on the poll below and in the comments.


  1. Tina Baca
    New Mexico
    October 23, 2012, 11:02 am

    My thought on the debates is that Barack Obama has tried his best to keep us out of the depression erorr but if Mitt Romney takes the office Me in middle class will not have a future cause I will have to work to keep the rich people rich then what about me as pride full worker.

  2. Andrew Overton
    NC USA
    October 23, 2012, 7:56 am

    I think Mitt romney clearly won the energy debate. Obama has not done much to widen the uses of the USA’s oil and natural gas which are the most important tpoics when it comes to energy. Also hes made tough and hardening regulations on the thousands of workers in the coal industry. Obama wont drill on government lands he wont drill in alaska he wont drill in the gulf and wont bring a pipeline down through Alaska for some reason. We need a president who can get us energy independent and free from foreingn oil and gas and create millions of jobs. We need Mitt Romney

  3. Andrew Benson
    United States
    October 22, 2012, 12:34 am

    Both are too afraid to even mention Nuclear, that is the true shame.

  4. Alma Greene
    Vermont, USA
    October 19, 2012, 11:40 am

    I can say Romney won. And I can see a lot of liberals here in NG, what a shame.

  5. Jesse Parent
    October 17, 2012, 5:13 pm

    I don’t think either candidate particularly handled energy issues well. It continues to be an issue that the US can’t deal with in an earnest or significant way. The debated ended up being a contest about who would seem like a better buddy to the coal industry in swing states. Environmentalists / ‘the left’ will be disappointed in Obama because of his hardy embrace of natural gas and coal, where as Romney’s speech may have been more standard issue GOP. Both attempted to reach toward the middle. Both didn’t talk about climate change. Both showed, to me, that in the US, talking about energy or climate change in a serious way is going to take a lot of work.