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GOP Dropping the Ball on Energy Debate?

Surprisingly, the energy revolution has been something of a no show in the presidential race so far. This is too bad. As the Economist‘s Lexington columnist notes, neither candidate has yet shown that he has a clear grasp of what U.S. energy policy should look like. Obama’s policies, in particular leave much to be desired:

For the most part, however, America’s good fortune has come despite the unqualified failure of Mr Obama’s most cherished policies on energy. The cap-and-trade scheme he wanted to adopt to cut greenhouse-gas emissions evaporated in the febrile air of Congress. The enthusiasm he shared with George W. Bush for biofuels made from agricultural waste rather than crops has also proved misplaced. Refiners are in theory still required to mix fixed quantities of “cellulosic ethanol” into their wares but are finding it tricky to do so, as no one is making any.

Talk of building a power plant that runs on “clean coal” has, as yet, come to naught. Mr Obama’s once relentless boosting of renewable energy and green jobs has become a political liability, thanks to the bankruptcy of Solyndra, a maker of solar panels on which his administration lavished money and attention. Meanwhile, even if Mr Obama did not actively oppose the shale-gas boom, he did little to promote it either.

Its perhaps understandable, given this record, that the president doesn’t want to make the energy revolution an issue in this campaign. If that’s true, it’s all the more reason his opponent should do more to push this debate onto the front pages. Regardless of the politics, the country needs a serious debate over energy policy; brown jobs are one of the keys to a prosperous future, but they come with significant costs that need to be discussed, limited and prepared for.

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