Energy Blog

Energy Blog

US Chamber of Commerce Blog

Sean Hackbarth Protesters at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Protesters at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Photo credit: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg.

Because of populism’s sudden rise this political cycle, the dramatic shift in the Democratic Party’s energy policy has gotten short shrift.

In 2012 Democrats, following President Barack Obama’s lead, touted an “All-of-the-Above-Energy Policy” in their party platform:

“We can move towards a sustainable, energy-independent future if we harness all of America’s great natural resources. That means an all-of-the-above approach to developing America’s many energy resources, including wind, solar, biofuels, geothermal, hydropower, nuclear, oil, clean coal, and natural gas.” “[A] new era of cheap, abundant natural gas is helping to bring jobs and industry back to the United States.” “We will continue to advocate for use of this clean fossil fuel [natural gas].” “And we are expediting the approval process to build out critical oil and gas lines essential to transporting our energy for consumers.”

But as Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, points out in The Wall Street Journal, things have changed in four short years [subscription required]:

The real story of the 2016 platform language is not the squabbling between the Clinton and Sanders camps, but rather that both sides joined to reject the previous positions adopted by candidate Barack Obama and his supporters.

The 2016 Democratic Party platform more closely resembles a Bill McKibben-style, “Keep it in the ground” philosophy.

This is especially true in regards to natural gas, as Harbert explains:

Blanket praise for the importance of natural gas as a job creator was replaced by blanket promises to restrict its production and use. This is a dramatic and troubling about-face. The shale revolution has lowered energy prices and fueled a renaissance in American manufacturing while improving our security by lowering dependence on foreign oil.

Democrats oppose other fossil fuels as well.

For instance, they oppose coal and support policies that will crush an entire industry:

Democrats are committed to defending, implementing, and extending smart pollution and efficiency standards, including the Clean Power Plan.

Democrats reject energy exploration in the Arctic and off the Atlantic coast:

We oppose drilling in the Arctic and off the Atlantic coast, and believe we need to reform fossil fuel leasing on public lands. We will phase down extraction of fossil fuels from our public lands, starting with the most polluting sources.

While wanting to reduce oil imports, they reject energy infrastructure that would bring oil from our friendly neighbor to the north, Canada:

We support President Obama's decision to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.

And they want to impose some sort of climate test on “all federal decisions.”

Democrats can wish it weren’t a fact, but our economy will need fossil fuels for decades to come. For instance, natural gas is becoming a more critical component of electricity generation.

eia_electricity_generation_2016.png Energy Information Administration chart on electricity generation sources for 2016.Energy Information Administration chart on electricity generation sources for 2016.

I’m sure convention goers in sultry Philadelphia are appreciating the air conditioning that’s being powered by it.

Sure, so much is happening in these strange political times that it makes your head spin. But we shouldn’t forget to notice how one of our major political parties has caved to its extreme environmentalist wing and wants to take the U.S. economy down a treacherous energy path.

lightbulb_bluegray_100px.png Lightbulb icon
Does America need an "All of the Above" energy strategy? Find out here. This Chamber Explainer will get you up to speed.


U.S. Chamber Staff  Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

After rocking the issues in Cleveland, the political world’s eyes are on Philadelphia, site of the Democratic National Convention.

“Let’s Make History Again” is the convention’s theme. Being a city rich with history—think Ben Franklin, the Declaration of Independence, and Rocky Balboa—Philadelphia inspired us to look back at great moments in American business history and how they helped us become the world’s biggest economy.

Hopefully this will inspire the Democratic Party to get Back to Business and build off our nation’s success in order to build a stronger economy.


From having the foresight to invent bifocals to the world-changing invention of the personal computer, American inventors have always been successful in creating innovative technologies.

Founding father, Ben Franklin invented the bifocals in the 1700s.

wikimediacommons_benfranklin_bifocals_1600px.jpg Bifocals by Benjamin Franklin.Bifocals by Benjamin Franklin.Bifocals by Benjamin Franklin in the Franklin Institute. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

In 1837, John Deere invented the first steel plow, which modernized the agricultural industry in America. 

John Deere Plow ASABE Landmark No 7 Video of John Deere Plow ASABE Landmark No 7

Alexander Graham Bell, transformed communications by inventing the telephone in 1876.

actor_portraying_alexander_graham_bell_in_an_att_promotional_film_1926.jpg Actor portraying Alexander Graham Bell. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Henry Ford invented the first moving assembly line for mass production in 1913.

wikimedia_modelt_assembly_800px.jpg 1913 photo of a Ford Model T assembly line. 1913 photo of a Ford Model T assembly line. 1913 photo of a Ford Model T assembly line.

The transistor, which revolutionized electronic devices—and later brought us the Computer Age--was invented by John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley in 1947.

replica-of-first-transistor.jpg Replica of the first transistor. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Apple, led by co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, released the first Macintosh computer in 1984.

1200px-macintosh_google_ny_office_computer_museum.jpg The first Macintosh computer. Photo credit: Marcin Wichary.   Energy

America has been blessed with energy abundance.  With centuries of experience under our belt along with new innovations, America continues be a world energy leader.

In 1821 William Hart drilled the first natural gas well. Today, natural gas generates one-third of U.S. electricity.

1200px-light_my_fire_2152952690.jpg Blue flame of natural gas burners. Photo credit: Michal Osmeda.

The first oil well  was drilled in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1859.

first_oil_well.jpg The first oil well. Photo credit: U.S. Library of Congress.

George Westinghouse, licensed the steam turbine in 1895 and used it to generate electricity. Today, about 80% of the world’s electricity is generated by steam.

753px-dampfturbine_montage01.jpg A steam turbine used to provide electric power. Photo credit: Seimens Pressebild.

Daryl Chapin, Gerald Pearson, and Calvin Fuller invented the solar cell in 1955, turning the power of the sun into electricity.

1200px-solar_panels.jpg Solar panels installed in Baja Sur, California. Photo credits: Bishop Bandita.

In 1997, George Mitchell led a team that combined horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing to unleash oil and natural gas from shale formations. The U.S. is now the world’s top petroleum producer.

bloomberg_oil_jack_corpus_christi_tx_1600px.jpg An oil jack near Corpus Christi, Texas.An oil jack near Corpus Christi, Texas.Photo credit: Eddie Seal/Bloomberg.   Infrastructure

Through its history, America has led the world in infrastructure wonders like canals, dams, and highways.

Canals became imperative to trade when the Erie Canal was built in 1825, followed by the Panama Canal in 1914 which linked the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

1200px-ship_providence_bay_at_panama_canal.jpg The Providence Bay enters locks in Panama Canal. Photo credit: Biberbaer.

Construction of the Hoover Dam was finished in 1935, making it the largest in the world when it was completed.

4307418516_30993d562a_z.jpg Hoover Dam

President Eisenhower's Interstate Highway System, dubbed the “greatest public works project in history,“ revolutionized American travel.

interstate_highway_plan_october_17_1957_reverse_colors.jpg Map of Interstate Highway plan in 1957.



These accomplishment brought us closer together helped shape America into the world trade leader we are today.

With his Clermont sailing up and down the Hudson River, Robert Fulton launched the first commercially successful steamboat in 1807.

clermont_illustration_-_robert_fulton_-_project_gutenberg_etext_15161.jpg Clermont illustration- Robert Fulton from Project Gutenberg. Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

The establishment of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869 made transporting goods remarkably easier, cheaper, and more flexible.

1183px-east_and_west_shaking_hands_at_the_laying_of_last_rail_union_pacific_railroad_-_restoration.jpg East and West Shaking Hands at Laying of Last Rail. Photo credit: Andrew J. Russell.

Eight years after the Wright Brothers’ first successful airplane flights, the first U.S. airmail delivery took place in 1911. Shipping has never been the same since.

493787807_ba3f91345d_z.jpg U.S. Air Mail plane being loaded.

Abby Kelly and Erica Roberts contributed to this piece.

Sean Hackbarth Cleveland, site of the Republican National Convention and Philadelphia, site of the Democratic National Convention.

Two weeks. Two conventions. Two cities.

It’s “Cleveland Rocks” versus “Philadelphia Soul.”

Over the next two weeks, the Republicans and Democrats will hold their national conventions.

Speeches will be made, balloons will fall, people will wear funny hats, and presidential nominees will be nominated.

The U.S. Chamber has a simple message for both parties as they partake in the festivities: Let’s get back to business.

America’s slow-growing economy is frustrating so many who see their wages stagnate and feel that the American Dream is slipping away.

They crave a positive agenda that supports job growth and prosperity.

At their conventions, the Democrats and Republicans should focus on ways to get America working.

Here are six areas they can start.

1. More Trade

Despite what populist naysayers tell you, trade makes a positive contribution to the U.S. economy.

Free trade agreements are great deals for Americans. Consumers have a wider variety of competitively priced goods and services, while American companies support millions of jobs by selling to customers all over the world.

More agreements will strengthen the economy. For instance the Trans-Pacific Partnership will create good-paying jobs for Americans, open doors for American companies, and add $77 billion to American incomes by 2025.

"Free Trade Agreements Are Great Deals for Americans" "The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Jobs" "Small Businesses Carry Trans-Pacific Partnership Message to Washington" 2. More Energy

Less than ten years ago, it was expected that the U.S. would be a net importer of its oil and natural gas. Because of innovation and old-fashioned American entrepreneurial risk-taking, that’s completely changed. Thanks for fracking [link] the U.S. is now the world’s top petroleum producer and has the most oil and natural gas reserves in the world.

The newfound energy abundance is saving families money and making energy-intensive American companies more competitive globally.

The next administration should build on this success with policies that encourage more domestic energy development.

"Why We’re Big on Developing More American Energy" "Fracking Saved Middle Class Families $480 In Lower Gas Prices in 2015" "Thanks to Fracking U.S. Has More Reserves Than Russia and Saudi Arabia"

022950_back_to_business_atf_insert_400px.gif Back to BusinessBack to Business 3. Better Regulation

Whether it’s overtime regulations, environmental rules, or health care regulations, the regulatory burden grows and grows. Congress allows unaccountable federal agencies to write thousands of regulations—in effect laws--every year. This pile-on of poorly thought out rules hurts businesses, workers, and consumers, damages the rule of law, and holds back our economy from growing faster.

Reforming how federal regulations are made will ensure the public is adequately protected while allowing businesses to innovate and grow.

"Explainer: The New Regulatory State and How Laws Are Really Made" "Time to Check Federal Regulatory Power" 4. Defending the Financial System

U.S. Chamber president and CEO Tom Donohue said recently we need to stop vilifying the financial system and build a regulatory system the “fosters growth-enhancing innovation and allows for legitimate risk.”

Stringent regulations on the financial system are crimping businesses and have stopped many from investing. That’s bad news for a sluggish economy. Businesses—small, medium, and large--need capital to fund innovative new ideas that grow their companies and create jobs.

"Critics Like Sen. Warren Need to Stop Vilifying Wall Street" "Attacks on Capital Markets Undermine Economic Growth" 5. Defending American Business

When economic growth is slow businesses often become the punching bag for politicians. That’s unfair given that businesses support jobs, push innovation, and support their communities every day. As one writer put it, “[E]very business is a social-science experiment, trying out different approaches to solving social problems.”

Attacking businesses may make some feel good, but it doesn’t solve the economic problems millions of Americans are facing.

Even worse, some politicians seek to silence businesses and their advocates, keeping them from taking part in policy debates. Attacking the free speech of any American is wrong, and both Republicans and Democrats should vigorously defend a robust public debate.

"Worth Your Vote: Support Business" "Defending Free Speech Rights" 6. Electing the Right Candidates

Getting good policies in place requires electing people that understand that business is the part of the solution to solving many of our problems. Across the country the U.S. Chamber is actively involved in House and Senate races to make sure a pro-business majority is elected to push American forward.

Republicans and Democrats must remember that after all the balloons are popped, the country will still be facing serious problems.

Will both parties get “back to business” and support an agenda of jobs, growth, and prosperity? Or will we be stuck with more of the same?