WASHINGTON D.C. — The Institute for Energy Research (IER) released today a presidential debate preview statement and questions for Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama, who will meet tonight in Hempstead, NY, for a town hall forum. With gas prices at record highs and additional announcements today that the administration’s ‘investment’ in green energy has resulted in more bankruptcies and layoffs, IER believes that the time is right for some serious questions to both candidates about America’s energy future. IER President Thomas Pyle issued the following statement:

“Today’s announcement that A123 has filed for bankruptcy — despite receiving a $249 million stimulus grant from the Obama administration — frames tonight’s debate in its proper context. Will America’s economic future depend on billion dollar taxpayer giveaways to support energy sources that people cannot afford, do not want, and will not purchase? Or will we develop our vast resources of affordable coal, oil, and natural gas to create jobs, increase energy security, and build the economy?”

IER’s Daniel Kish, Senior Vice President for Policy, suggested the following questions for both candidates at tonight’s forum:

For President Obama:

1. The Energy Information Administration released figures last week, revealing that the United States is importing an average of 869,000 barrels a day of oil from Venezuela, where President Hugo Chavez just won re-election largely due to his stewardship of that country’s vast oil resources. The Keystone XL Pipeline, if approved, could bring almost that same amount of oil every day from our closest trade partner, Canada, to Gulf Coast refineries — the exact destination of Venezuelan crude. Why do you believe it is in our national interest to continue buying oil from Hugo Chavez rather than our most trusted ally in the Western Hemisphere?

2. Today, it was announced that auto battery maker A123 filed for bankruptcy protection, despite receiving a $249 million grant from the Department of Energy through your trillion dollar stimulus program. This bankruptcy filing now joins that of Solyndra, Beacon, Abound Solar, and EnerDel. Given this track record, do you still believe that government should spend taxpayer dollars to pick winners and losers in the energy market, and will you continue to award taxpayer-funded grants to companies like A123? How would you rate yourself as an investment advisor, given recent developments?

For Governor Romney: 

1. You’ve had a great deal of experience and success in the private sector. A number of companies you invested in turned around from near collapse, hired more workers, and are still strong today after many years. As you survey the renewable energy market, would you invest your own capital — or invite others to do the same — in companies like A123, Solyndra, Beacon, Abound Solar, or EnerDel? And if not, would you invest taxpayer dollars in those same companies?

2. There’s a great deal of speculation about what a President Romney cabinet would look like in the event you are elected. Do you believe it is important to have a person leading the Department of Interior that has experience in Western land resource issues — someone like Wyoming’s Rep. Cynthia Lummis or Sen. John Barrasso? And if Sen. Joe Manchin does not win his re-election in West Virginia, would you consider appointing him as head of the Environmental Protection Agency?


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