As the Obama inauguration nears and his cabinet picks are made public, the impact of his presidency on the alternative energy sector is becoming more tangible. During the campaign, we heard plenty on Barack Obama’s views on environmental regulation, climate change and alternative energy. But what about the people who will be advising him day-to-day on these matters, and who will be ambassadors both inside and out of the country for the administration’s policies?
One thing is for certain: Obama’s picks so far for positions with influence on energy and environmental matters mark a clear break from the Bush administration. I was doing some reading on the matter and put together the table below, along with certain stock categories that could see some upside as a result of these individuals’ influence on the incoming administration’s policy agenda.
To be sure, not all of these individuals will have the same degree of influence on the President, and past opinions or actions may not be an indication of future ones. Nevertheless, two main things emerge from this table, in my view.
First, few if any of these individuals have a history of cozying up to the fossil fuel industry, whether oil & gas or coal. This is markedly different from what people got used to under the Bush administration and while I wouldn’t say this is grounds for shorting O&G or coal stocks, these industries should not expect energy policy to be as favorable as it has been over the past eight years.
Second, in most cases, these individuals have openly stated that they view climate change as a significant problem that should be addressed. It is therefore nearly certain that greenhouse gases will be regulated at the federal level.
Obama made his views on alternative energy and climate policy known a long time ago. His appointments confirm that he intends on carrying through with his promises. While I continue to believe that the White House won’t seek to have tight climate regulations enacted as long as the economy remains soft, such regulations, likely in the form of a cap-and-trade system, will almost certainly be brought forward before this presidential term is over.