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USA, la battaglia dell'energia tra repubblicani e democratici

Il prezzo della benzina continua a salire e i Repubblicani ne approfittano per attaccare la politica energetica di Obama e chiedere di aumentare le estrazioni di petrolio. Ma produzione nazionale e aumento dei costi non sarebbero collegati. I Democratici, intanto, presentano al Senato un testo per tagliare i sussidi alle compagnie petrolifere.

L'energia fa discutere la politica degli States. Mentre i prezzi della benzina continuano a salire, i Repubblicani ne approfittano per attaccare Obama che la settimana scorsa ha presentato la sua strategia energetica. Con le elezioni presidenziali in vista e le primarie repubblicane in corso, il tema dell'energia diventa caldo e si trasforma in uno strumento di propaganda politica. Lunedì i prezzi alla pompa hanno toccato una media nazionale di 3,90 dollari a gallone. Dall'inizio del mese c'è stato un aumento di 17 centesimi e ci si aspetta che la tendenza continui nelle prossime settimane. I rialzi sono direttamente collegati all'incremento del prezzo del greggio che è salito dell'8% da inizio anno, arrivando questa settimana a 107,03 dollari a barile. 

Per gli americani, abituati all'energia a buon mercato, è uno shock e così quella che chiamano “pain at the pump” diventa facile oggetto della retorica politica di chi, come il favorito candidato repubblicano Mitt Romney, ritiene che gli USA dovrebbero aumentare le estrazioni di petrolio sul proprio territorio. La crescita dei prezzi sarebbe, secondo questa visione, la diretta conseguenza delle scelte di un Obama che starebbe deliberatamente facendo salire il costo dei carburanti tradizionali per favorire rinnovabili e gas naturale. A riprova di questa teoria ci sarebbe la costante discesa dei prezzi del gas naturale che, grazie a un recente boom di produzione, è arrivato ai minimi degli ultimi 10 anni, con 2.226 dollari per 1.000 piedi cubici.

Fin dalla campagna elettorale del 2008, Obama si era impegnato a ridurre il ricorso al petrolio, ma la produzione nazionale, durante il suo mandato, è in realtà aumentata, come mostra il grafico qui sotto.

Inoltre una statistica pubblicata di recente dall'Associated Press e basata sull'analisi dei prezzi del carburante su un arco di 36 mesi, in relazione ai quantitativi di petrolio estratti negli USA, dimostrerebbe che non si può rintracciare un collegamento diretto tra le due cose. Non è detto, insomma, che estrarre di più significhi necessariamente far abbassare i prezzi. “Il fatto è che la produzione americana di petrolio copre circa l'11 per cento della produzione mondiale – spiega a QualeEnergia.it, Christopher Knittel, docente di economia dell'energia al Massachusett Institute of Technology – Quindi anche se, come propongono i repubblicani, gli USA aumentassero le estrazioni offshore e quelle su suolo pubblico, aprissero alle perforazioni nell'Artico e riuscissero nel poco realistico obbiettivo di incrementare la produzione domestica del 50 per cento, ciò provocherebbe, al massimo, una diminuzione dei prezzi del carburante del 10 per cento. Semplicemente quello del petrolio è un mercato su cui gli USA non sono in grado di influenzare le tendenze internazionali”.

Se i prezzi continuano a salire non sarebbe quindi colpa di Obama, nonostante, durante il suo incarico, la benzina sia aumentata del 73%. Stando a un recente sondaggio sul gradimento del presidente, pubblicato dall'agenzia di stampa Bloomberg, gli americani sarebbero consapevoli che puntare il dito contro di lui è pura strategia elettorale. Solo il 23% dà la colpa a Obama per l'aumento dei prezzi, mentre il 66% ritiene che sia responsabilità delle compagnie petrolifere e conseguenza dell'instabilità in Medioriente. Secondo le compagnie che commerciano petrolio, la riduzione delle esportazioni iraniane e le preoccupazioni per un possibile prolungato stallo nella situazione in Medioriente avrebbe provocato un aumento del prezzo del petrolio tra i 15 e i 17 dollari a barile. 

Lettura condivisa dalla Casa Bianca, da cui la settimana scorsa è arrivato un piano energetico che punta sulla necessità di ridurre la dipendenza dal petrolio estero, attraverso la strategia “all of the above, ovvero un mix di energie che non esclude i combustibili fossili, ma li integra in un pacchetto che comprende l'aumento del 12% della produzione domestica di petrolio, il primo innalzamento degli standard di efficienza dei veicoli degli ultimi 30 anni e il raddoppio della produzione da rinnovabili.  E tuttavia, stando sempre ai risultati del sondaggio di Bloomberg, secondo il 49% degli americani, per abbassare i prezzi della benzina e ridurre la dipendenza dalle importazioni, sarebbe più credibile la strategia repubblicana di aumentare le perforazioni sul territorio nazionale che non quella di sviluppare fonti alternative e puntare sul risparmio energetico. Non sarà facile superare le opposizioni per un presidente a fine mandato che aveva promesso di impegnarsi per lo sviluppo delle rinnovabili. "Con le elezioni così vicine non c'è molto che l'amministrazione possa fare – riprende Knittel – Tutto può essere utilizzato come strumento di propaganda politica".

Eppure i democratici ci stanno provando e lunedì hanno portato al Senato un testo di legge che dovrebbe tagliare i sussidi alle compagnie petrolifere. Nel comunicato diffuso dalla Casa Bianca si legge: "Invece di sovvenzionare le fonti fossili che appartengono al secolo scorso, regalando 4 miliardi di dollari dei contribuenti all'anno alle compagnie petrolifere, che fanno più profitti che mai, dovremmo investire in un futuro di energia pulita". Questa  la filosofia del Repeal Big Oil Subsidies Act che i repubblicani si sono detti pronti a discutere (nella speranza di strumentalizzare  il discorso contro la politica energetica di Obama) ma che difficilmente diventertà legge, dicono i commentatori.

Lunedì il Senato ha deciso di mandare avanti il testo proposto dal senatore democratico Robert Menendez e che, nell'arco di 10 anni, dovrebbe ridurre progressivamente i sussidi alle cinque maggiori compagnie petrolifere: Bp, Exxon, Shell, Chevron e ConocoPhillips. "Per me si tratta di una scelta facile – ha detto alla stampa Menendez – o stai dalla parte delle compagnie petrolifere che fanno profitti da record e che certo non hanno bisogno dei soldi dei contribuenti  oppure stai dalla parte degli automobilisti e dei contribuenti americani". A destra come a sinistra, la politica statunitense sembra essere ben cosciente del ruolo delicato e cruciale che il tema energia e carburanti potrà avere nel determinare il risultato elettorale del prossimo novembre. E c'è da aspettarsi battaglia.  

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