How Green is Your Vote?

One of our readers pointed out a lack of political discourse on environmental issues. Earthlab has compiled a breakdown of what the candidates wish to accomplish with regard to the environment. Alex, thanks for bringing this up and for the link from earthlab!

2008 Presidential Candidates – Environment

Top Democrat Positions

Hillary Clinton
Clinton’s plans to tackle global warming revolve around her Strategic Energy Fund. She states that, “As a nation, it is time we take the giant leap in energy innovation we desperately need and that is exactly what the Strategic Energy Fund will do.” The fund sketches out a plan to inject $50 billion into research and development of renewable energy, clean coal technology, energy efficiency, ethanol and other “homegrown” biofuels. The fund draws revenue by eliminating oil companies’ tax breaks, making sure they pay their fair share for drilling operations on public lands, and encouraging them to either invest in renewable energy or pay into the fund directly. “By pursuing these opportunities, we can grow the economy and shrink our dependence on foreign oil. We can slow global warming and speed the creation of good new jobs. We can protect our security and protect our environment.”

Barack Obama
Obama’s proposal to reduce global warming involves the implementation of an economy-wide, market-based cap-and-trade system. “No business will be allowed to emit any greenhouse gases for free,” Obama states. “Businesses don’t own the sky, the public does, and if we want them to stop polluting it, we have to put a price on all pollution.” This ambitious cap-and-trade system will auction off 100 percent of emissions permits, making polluters pay for the CO2 they emit. The system also mandates the reduction of emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Obama plans on investing $150 billion in “climate friendly” energy supplies, such as ethanol, over the next ten years, while simultaneously maintaining and protecting the existing manufacturing base. “My general view is that we should experiment with all sorts of potential energy sources,” says Obama. “Don’t prejudge what works and what doesn’t, but insist that we have very strict standards in terms of where we want to end up, and enforce those standards vigorously.”

Top Republican Positions

Mitt Romney
When asked what he plans on doing about the global climate crisis, Romney’s answer is concise; “We’re going to get ourselves off foreign oil. And to do that it’s going to take nuclear power, clean coal, more efficient vehicles, and then we’re going to dramatically reduce our greenhouse gasses.” Romney emphasizes a push toward clean coal, alternative energy, and a greatly expanded nuclear power plan. “Instead of sweeping mandates, we must use America’s power of innovation to develop alternative sources of energy and new technology that use energy more efficiently.” Romney articulates that this technology includes the use of ethanol, but not exclusively. He plans to continue development of multiple energy sources within the U.S., including biodiesel, liquefied coal, offshore drilling, and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,

John McCain
McCain believes that America’s economic and environmental interests are not “mutually exclusive, but rather inextricably linked.” His approach to global warming involves limiting carbon emissions by bringing nuclear energy to the forefront of the market, which will reduce America’s dependence on foreign supplies of energy. These concepts are outlined in his Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act, along with his plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions substantially enough to forestall catastrophic global warming. Implementing these reductions involves setting mandatory greenhouse gas pollution reductions in all major sectors of the U.S. economy, using free-market incentives to lower costs, and providing support for technology innovations. “Americans solve problems. We don’t run from them,” states McCain on the environmental page of his Web site. “Most, if not all of the ways that we can address this issue are through profit motive, free-enterprise-system-driven green technologies.”