Global Warming Heats Up The Presidential Race

For the first time in decades, the environment is getting some play in the race for the presidency. Thanks to global warming, the majority of political attention is devoted to our current energy dilemma. How do we break our oil habit and what alternative energy sources should we pursue? Many of the forward-thinking candidates have developed comprehensive energy plans, while others are merely giving lip service to the issue. See how your candidates stack up when addressing the most important global challenge our society has ever faced.

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DEMOCRATS

John Edwards

John Edwards has distinguished himself as being the most aggressive candidate regarding climate change during his campaign. He was the first to create a comprehensive energy plan, the first to call for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent, and the first to operate a “Carbon Neutral” campaign. Edwards also refuses to take money from lobbyists (including those representing oil and power industries) and is asking that all candidates follow suit. However, Edwards earned a lifetime environmental voting record of 63 percent from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), an independent non-profit that judges elected politicians on their environmental voting record. His relatively low score stems from the fact that he missed many key environmental votes during his 2004 campaign.

+ Cosponsored the Clean Power Act of 2003, which would have required utilities to control emissions of carbon dioxide, mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide.

+ Led the fight against Bush’s clean air rollbacks and demanded more research be done on the public health consequences of Bush’s proposal.

+ Voted against drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge five times.

+ Voted in favor of an amendment that would have increased fuel-economy standards for passenger cars to 40 mpg by 2014, even though he voted to exempt pickup trucks from higher CAFÉ standards in 2002.

+ Proposes raising fuel-economy standards to 40 miles per gallon by 2016. In his plan, the federal government would spend $1 billion a year helping U.S. automakers produce more clean, efficient, and biofuel friendly vehicles.

– Voted for an amendment that allowed mountain top removal in 1999.

ENERGY PLAN

• Includes a $13 billion a year “New Energy Economy Fund,” which would invest in renewable energy, cleaner cars, and clean businesses. The plan was voted as the best climate plan by members of MoveOn.org in July 2007.;

• Opposes the building of new nuclear power plants.

• Eliminate $3 billion in annual government subsidies to oil companies while simultaneously reducing oil imports by two thirds by 2025.

• Proposes a GreenCorps within AmeriCorps where young adults would weatherize homes, install solar panels and conduct energy audits.

• Bans construction of new coal power plants unless they’re compatible with carbon-capture and storage technology.

• Opposes government investment in coal-to-liquid technologies.

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BARACK OBAMA

In 2004, Obama was named an “Environmental Champion” by the League of Conservation Voters for his contributions as a senator. During his tenure as Senator, Obama has earned an amazing 96 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters. During his campaign, Obama has said repeatedly that he wants to restore environmental protections that the Bush administration rolled back by executive order. However, Obama has concerned many environmentalists with his staunch support of ethanol as an alternative fuel and his interest in coal-to-liquid technologies.

+ Cosponsor of the Biofuels Security Act, which calls for 60 billion gallons of biofuels to be added to the nation’s vehicle fuel supply by the year 2030.

+ Opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

+ Introduced the Oil SENSE Act, which would eliminate select oil-industry tax breaks.

+ Cosponsored the bipartisan Fuel Economy Reform Act, which would raise vehicle fuel-efficiency standards by approximately one mile per gallon each year.

+ Cosponsored the 2005 Vehicle and Fuel Choices for American Security Act, which would cut America’s oil consumption in half (10 million barrels a day) by 2031.

+ Current energy plan will raise fuel-economy standards for autos to 40 mpg by 2020.

– Cosponsored the Coal to Liquid Fuel Promotion Act. Obama justified his support of the bill by saying he would support liquefied coal only if it emitted 20 percent less carbon over its lifecycle than conventional fuels.

– Voted in favor of the Bush’s Energy Policy Act, an oil-friendly bill that environmentalists opposed. The bill supported ethanol and “clean” coal technology.

– Actively working to get the nation’s first zero-emissions coal power plant, FutureGen, built in Illinois.

ENERGY PLAN

• Believes nuclear power should continue to be part of the country’s energy mix.

• Calls for the country to become 50 percent more energy efficient by 2030—the most aggressive energy conservation plan of any candidate.

• Calls for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

• Creates of a $150 billion investment fund devoted to creating a “clean energy economy.” The majority of the fund is dedicated to biofuel research and low emissions coal plants, but a portion is earmarked for the development of “commercial scale renewable energy.” Most of the investment fund is devoted to corn ethanol.

• Supports the goal of getting 25 percent of the United States’ energy supply from renewable sources by 2025.

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HILLARY CLINTON

During her tenure as senator, Clinton’s strong support of environmental legislation has earned her a lifetime voting record of 90 percent from the League of Conservation Voters, as well as an endorsement from tireless environmental advocate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Still, Clinton tends to upset some conservationists with her support of nuclear power and “clean coal” technologies.

+ Cosponsored the Clean Power Act, which would have required power plants to significantly reduce harmful emissions.

+ Voted against Bush’s oil friendly Energy Policy Act in 2005 because it rolled back environmental laws set forth by her husband’s administration.

+ Voted in favor of an amendment that would have increased fuel-economy standards for passenger cars to 40mpg by 2014.

+ Proposes raising fuel economy standards for automobiles to 35 miles per gallon by 2020.

+ Cosponsored an amendment that would establish an energy efficiency and renewable energy workforce training program, which would bolster the growth of the renewable energy and efficiency industries.

+ Voted 17 times against bills that promoted corn ethanol production, even stating “there is no sound public policy reason for mandating the use of ethanol.”

– Supports coal-to-liquid fuels and “clean coal” technologies if they emit 20 percent less carbon over their lifecycle than conventional fuels.

– Voted for providing loans for coal projects.

ENERGY PLAN

• Demands that 20 percent of the U.S. electricity supply come from renewable sources by 2020.

• Calls for a $50 billion corn ethanol research fund, and the expansion of corn ethanol availability to half of the nation’s gas stations by 2015.

• Proposes Green Building Fund, where the federal government would allocate $1 billion annually to states to make grants or low-interest loans to improve energy efficiency in public buildings.

• Cuts U.S. consumption of foreign oil in half by 2025. It will raise $50 billion in ten years by taxing the profits of oil companies and cutting their tax breaks. That money would then be invested in clean energy technologies with the ultimate goal of energy independence.

• Demand investment in energy efficiency plans before any new coal-fired power plants could be built. The plan also requires all new coal plants be outfitted with carbon-and-sequester technologies.

REPUBLICANS

MITT ROMNEY

As governor of Massachusetts, Romney kick-started one of the most progressive greenhouse gas reduction plans in the country—then backed out of the initiative at the last minute, leaving environmentalists and his constituents puzzled. He now says that he doesn’t believe in global warming.

Romney has a history of changing his position on major issues. While running for governor in Massachusetts, Romney supported the right to gay marriage. After announcing his candidacy for president, Romney reversed this position, writing a letter to the Senate urging senators to pass a federal amendment stating marriage is an action between a man and a woman.

Romney does not have an extensive voting record, nor has he developed an energy plan.

+ While governor, developed a state-wide energy plan that called for the increase of biofuel in the state fleet by 10%.

– After playing a key role in the development of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (an agreement between several Northeastern states to reduce greenhouse gases over a 10 year period), Romney pulled out of the deal at the last minute.

– Does not believe global warming is human-induced.

– Has not developed an energy plan during his campaign.

– Vocally opposes the Kyoto Protocol.

– Proponent of exploring more domestic sources of oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Continental Shelf.

– Has been touting “clean” coal practices like coal gasification for energy independence during his campaign.

– Relentlessly opposed wind power during his term as governor, subverting the approval process of the nation’s largest alternative energy project, a wind farm off of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Romney engineered delays of the approval process and even sought veto power of the project, a right legally reserved for the President of the United States.

– Supports nuclear power and, while governor of Massachusetts, said, “the nation is going to have to explore nuclear power sources again.”

ENERGY PLAN (none)