Huge natural gas and oil finds in the United States — from Pennsylvania and Ohio to North Dakota and Texas — have drastically changed America’s energy outlook. Gas burns cleaner than coal. It’s relatively cheap. U.S. reliance on foreign oil is dropping. There are environmental concerns with “fracking,” the hydraulic fracturing process used to unleash gas and oil from rock. While many see big dollar signs in exporting U.S. gas, others argue that the best way to keep prices low is to keep this energy windfall right here at home. Both President Obama and former governor Mitt Romney are making energy a top 2012 presidential campaign issue. Washington Post Live, in partnership with the Bipartisan Policy Center, held forums at both the Republican and Democratic national conventions to discuss the best way to cultivate the fast-changing U.S. energy landscape. Many speakers at the Republican convention in Tampa criticized what they said were onerous, outdated and expensive federal regulations for drilling and fracking. They favored the Romney plan to give more power to states to control the process. In Charlotte, speakers at the Democratic convention accused the Romney campaign of being too cozy with the oil industry. They said Democrats are determined to diversify into renewable energy and safeguard the environment while pursuing gas and oil. We have excerpted highlights on these pages, and video of the lively discussions can be viewed on washingtonpostlive.com.
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