It’s Time to Hold Politicians Accountable for Election Year Energy Proposals

Washington, DC, USA - November 12, 2013: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Karen Harbert.   Photo by ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of CommerceIt’s Time to Hold Politicians Accountable for Election Year Energy Proposals
Karen Harbert, President and Chief Executive Officer, Institute for 21st Century Energy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

There’s never a shortage of intrigue when it comes to energy in Colorado.  As a swing state with major energy production and the ability to hold referendums, that shouldn’t be surprising.

But what often is surprising is the things that politicians and their allies say—and get away with—when it comes to energy.

For instance, within the last few months, both parties’ Presidential nominees visited Colorado and opined on local fracking bans.  Needless to say, their remarks were not encouraging.

Too often, there is a temptation to dismiss statements made by candidates as things said “off the cuff, or in the “heat of the moment,” or offered up merely to “appeal to their base.” This is incredibly cynical, and it needs to change.

That’s why the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy will be releasing a series of reports that will be taking a substantive look at what would happen if certain energy-related ideas and policy prescriptions put forth by prominent politicians and their supporters were actually adopted. We’re calling it the Energy Accountability Series, and I’m looking forward to releasing the first report in Denver this week.

Certainly, one doesn’t need to look far these days to find platforms or outlets that claim to be definitive “fact-checkers” of all manner of utterances candidates make on the campaign trail.  That won’t be our role.  Rather, we will be taking a step back to better analyze and quantify where possible the real-world, economy-wide consequences of living in a world in which candidates’ rhetoric on critical energy issues were to become reality.

A candidate’s views and the things they say and do to win the support of interest groups have a real impact on how policy is shaped, and ultimately implemented. That is especially true on energy issues today, as groups continue to advance a “Keep It In the Ground” agenda that, if adopted, would force our country to surrender the enormous domestic benefits and clear, global competitive advantages that increased energy development here at home have made possible. Accordingly, candidates and public opinion leaders should be taken at their word, and this series will evaluate what those words mean.

The Energy Accountability Series will ask the tough questions and provide quantitative, clear-eyed answers on the full impacts and implications of these policies, and it will do so irrespective of which candidates, groups or political parties happen to support or oppose them. Our hope is that these reports help promote and inform a fact-based debate of the critical energy issues facing our country. Armed with this information, voters will have the opportunity this fall to make the right choices for themselves and their families.

To follow our series throughout the fall, visit

Ms. Harbert will be speaking during the 2016 Rocky Mountain Energy Summit. To learn more about attending visit