The Obama effect on U.S. industries

Union carpenters work on the reviewing stand for Obama's Inaugural Parade outside the White House -- November 5, 2008


Bill Radke: This week, we're asking what a President Obama will mean to individual American industries. Reporter Alisa Roth joins us. Alisa, we heard so much about energy and oil drilling in the campaign. So what can energy companies expect?

Alisa Roth: We're obviously already seeing falling prices. One person I talked to yesterday actually said that Obama should really figure out a way to kind of buffer those prices -- so not control them per say, but use reserves and so on to make sure there aren't just crazy fluctuations and in fact that prices don't drop too far. Meanwhile, during the campaign Obama did offer some conditional support for offshore drilling, so we might see some of that. There's been a lot of talk about windfall taxes for the oil companies, which in fact could add up to a lot of bad news for them.

I talked to Rick Nicholson, he's a researcher at Energy Insights, and this is what he had to say:

Rick Nicholson: Add that to sort of the lower crude prices that we've seen, which means the companies are bringing in less revenue, you're going to see a slowdown in investment and technology in the oil and gas segment.

Radke: What does this mean for utility companies, Alisa? Particularly those who use coal?

Roth: There's a lot of talk about an Obama administration forcing them to switch to cleaner technology, so clean coal is one possibility. Natural gas is something else that's been talked about. A second stimulus package, if it happens, could focus on infrastructure, investment and infrastructure, and that could be a really good thing for utilities, because basically it would allow all kinds of investment to upgrade what we had, which is kind of a crummy old patchwork grid system, to something more high-tech and digital.

Radke: In this country, we can't talk about oil without thinking about automobiles. What's this going to mean for the car industry?

Roth: Well, it's still unclear, because as everybody knows, the auto industry in the U.S. is in real trouble, and has been getting into worse trouble lately. So the Big Three are still lobbying the government for help that could happen even before Obama takes office. What's still unsure is what that help would be -- would it be loans, or would it be some other kind of support? Once Obama takes office, there's been a lot of talk about requiring higher efficiency standards and things like that. And so one possibility is that whatever bill is put together that outlines those new standards would also include money for the Big Three to invest in technologies.

Radke: Alisa Roth, thanks for joining us from New York.

Roth: You're welcome.


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