SALT LAKE CITY -- With only a month to go before the 2012
election, the results (from the presidential election to down
ballot Congressional races) are far from certain.
address these various uncertainties, Brendan Williams,
AFPMs vice president for advocacy, shared his inside the
Beltway perspective during Tuesday mornings general
Mr. Williams cited a RealClearPolitics general
election poll that shows President Obama leading Governor
Romney, 48.9% to 44.9%. Meanwhile, polling data regarding the
direction of the country shows that 37.6% of respondents
believe the US is moving in the right direction, while 56.3%
say things are going in the wrong direction. And in news that
shocked no one, Mr. Williams shared a poll that indicated only
17% of Americans have a favorable impression of Congress.
I think Ahmadinejad might have a higher rating than
Congress, Mr. Williams quipped.
The electoral college. Moving on to
electoral college mathematics, the current electoral map shows
Mr. Obama at 265 electoral votes and Mr. Romney at 191. 270 is
magic number required to win the presidency. Within this
context, key swing states include Florida, Nevada, Colorado,
Virginia and North Carolina, while former swing state Ohio
appears to be strongly trending toward Obama.
Karl Rove. In order for Mr. Romney to win, Karl Rove
has proposed a 3, 2, 1 strategy. Mr. Rove says that
for Mr. Romney to tally 270 in the electoral college, he will
need to not only win all the states that Senator McCain won in
2008, but also pick up Indiana, Virginia and North
Carolina. He also needs to grab the large swings states former
President Bush won in 2000 and 2004: Ohio and Florida. Finally,
in Mr. Roves scenario, Romney needs to win either New
Hampshire or New Mexico to push him over the 270 threshold.
Other keys to the election. Mr. Williams said that voter
intensity will be crucial.
Whichever side can most energize their base is likely to
win the election, he said.
Demographic turnout is going to be big, according to Mr.
Williams. The key demographics both sides are seeking include
white women, Latinos and the young people vote.
Latinos are important this election cycle because of the
changing demographics of the US. In 1980, the electorate was
12% non-white. In 2008 the countrys electorate was 27%
non-white and this trend is expected to continue to grow in
The Senate. Mr. Williams said that this is a really
weird year as far as Senate campaigns go.
Historically Senate races track Presidential races,
he said. This year it really isnt the
Polling projections show the Senate with 48
sure Democrats, 43 sure Republicans
and nine tossup races.
Out of the nine tossups, it looks like an uphill climb
for the Republicans , Mr. Williams said. You could
see another 50-50 Senate when all is said and done. What this
also tells you, though, is that nothing is going to happen
[legislatively] in the Senate. Since you need 60 votes to make
anything happen, the Senate is going to be a difficult
environment to get any legislation moving.
House races. House Republicans are projected to lose seats but still
maintain control. Overall, things do not look good for
congressman and senators.
Historically, people used to hate Congress but love
their congressman, Mr. Williams said. But now, 56%
of Americans say they would defeat and replace all
of Congress, meaning that constituents love of their
particular congressman has faded.
One other interesting polling item that Mr. Williams shared
is that middle class voters appear to be breaking big for Mr.
Romney. The latest polls show him with a 13 point margin among
middle class voters.
How will the election affect the HPI? There are many
challenges on the regulatory front that will drastically alter
look of industry. Will the so called regulatory train
wreck continue? Mr. Williams says there are a blizzard of
stationary source regulations that threaten refining operations. These
· Clean Air Act greenhouse gas
regulations: New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and
Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD)
· Ozone National Ambient Air Quality
Standards (NAAQS) are coming in 2013
· The final rule on Particulate matter
(PM) 2.5 NAAQS is slated for December 2012
· Refinery residual risk
rule is coming in late fall 2012
· Environmental justice issues.
The combination of these factors will make already lengthy
permitting delays even longer and more costly. Plus, stationary
source regulations exacerbate burdensome requirements on fuels
AFPM is also concerned that current chemical policies are
hampering growth and security. A few hot button issues on this
· The EPA is eroding chemical
information protection through the Toxic Substances Control Act
· Bipartisan TSCA modernization talks are ongoing,
with the non-governmental organization (NGO) community and some
legislators looking to advance a REACH-like program (REACH is
the European Communitys regulation on chemicals and their
safe use) legislatively
· The Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism
Standards (CFATS) program is under attack, as a Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) internal report raised questions about
the integrity of the program, which has led to extensive
The fuel policy debates are also heating up. These are some
items to watch:
· The EPA is set to advance Tier 3
gas standards in the near future
· An independent study predicts four to
six potential refinery closures and a 9-25% gallon
· Loud calls are emerging for Renewable
Fuel Standards (RFS) reform
· The recent drought has led eight
states to request or support waivers for the RFS
· Restaurant, environmental and food
groups are also calling for the RFS repeal