It was former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil who coined the phrase, “all politics is local.” If Tip’s words have any resonance in modern times, it's that they suggest there is a real interest in energy policy around the nation.
As the political season approaches its November finish line, debates are popping up around the nation for offices at all levels. While the chairman and CEO of General Electric took to the New York Times this week to lambaste the federal government for having a “relic” of an energy regulatory system, the same arguments were being made in the race for congressman in Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District.
Republican Thomas Marino is trying to make this Pennsylvania district red again after Democrat Chris Carney snapped a 46-year run of Republican control in 2006. In his own op-ed in the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, Marino calls the Department of Energy’s lack of energy policy “unacceptable.” Of course, because Pennsylvania sits on the front lines of the contentious fracking debate, Marino has to take a stand on the issue. He claims he is a “strong supporter” of the natural gas industry, but hedges his bet by saying, “we need to make sure that the extraction of this natural resource is done in an environmentally responsibility manner.” Current polls show that Marino is in a dead heat with Carney, who also is a supporter of natural gas drilling in the region.
In upstate New York and New Hampshire, energy — in all forms — has been at the center of congressional races. In New York’s 23rd district, the main candidates for Congress are on the same side of the hot energy topic of the region. This time it's not natural gas but nuclear power under discussion. A Watertown Daily Times story shows that all three candidates on the ballot, including a Democrat, a Republican and a Conservative Party member, favor an expanded role for nuclear power in upstate New York. In New Hampshire’s second congressional district, both Republican incumbent Charlie Bass and Democratic challenger Ann McClane Kuster are touting their connections to the wood pellet heating industry in New Hampshire to show voters that they see alternative energy as a job generator.
In Maine, the four candidates vying to be the state’s governor had their philosophies questioned during a debate sponsored by the Environmental and Energy Technology Council of Maine. All four candidates’ ideas varied on level of specificity, and how much they felt the government should be involved in issues ranging from offshore drilling to Canadian power. Maine’s gubernatorial race isn’t the only one in which energy has become a sticking point for candidates; the two men trying to move into the governor’s office in Idaho have begun bickering over who is more green.
Iowa is also getting in on the energy action in the race to be the state’s agriculture secretary. The De Moines Register points out that Democratic and Republican candidates for the job are not seeing eye to eye on subsidizing alternative fuels including ethanol produced from corn. Iowa is the leading producer of corn in the nation.
It seems that in state after state and district after district, energy is under discussion. And with races tight and November approaching, it’s likely energy will remain a topic of discussion. Remember, all politics is local.