Harsher energy regulations coming in Obama's second term

Wed Nov 7, 2012 1:06am EST
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* Tighter rules expected for oil, gas drilling

* Solar, wind likely will get renewed focus

* Chemical producers fear stronger emissions rules

Nov 7 (Reuters) - Energy companies likely will see more regulation in President Barack Obama's second term, with less access to federal lands and water even as the administration promotes energy independence.

With a pledge to cut oil imports by half by 2020, Obama during the campaign advocated what he called an "all of the above" approach to developing a range of domestic energy sources. He said, however, that he would roll back subsidies for oil companies and reduce the nation's reliance on oil by mandating production of more fuel-efficient vehicles.

"You are going to have less access to federal lands and tougher government agencies," said Dan Pickering, chief investment officer at TPH Asset Management in Houston.

Obama's energy strategy over the last four years has shifted away from focusing on climate change after a bill establishing a cap-and-trade system to curb carbon emissions died in the Senate in 2010 after a bitter partisan fight. The president's green policies also suffered a major setback when solar power company Solyndra collapsed last year after receiving a $535 million loan guarantee, unleashing a political firestorm.

Obama's team of energy advisers include Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel prize- w inning scientist who specializes in alternative and renewable energy technologies but who regularly talks up the government's role in developing hydraulic fracturing technology. His top White House energy adviser is Heather Zichal, who has been an advocate for creating green jobs and tackling climate change by reducing dependence on oil.

Obama has pledged more support for development of renewable energy technologies like solar and wind, but he will need the support of Congress to extend or renew tax breaks that have underpinned the growth of those industries.   Continued...