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Energy & US candidates - May 24

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Policy directors for top White House contenders discuss climate change, energy policy
(Video & transcript)
With all the focus being paid to climate change internationally, on Capitol Hill and throughout the United States, the issue will likely play a major role in the 2008 presidential elections.

During today's E&ETV Event Coverage of a recent Brookings Institution panel discussion, policy directors for four major candidates discuss climate change and energy policy. Panelists include, James Kvaal of John Edwards for America, Denis McDonough of Obama for America, John Raidt of McCain 2008 and Todd Stern of the Hillary Clinton for President Exploratory Committee.

They discuss the candidates' goals for climate and energy, whether nuclear and coal to liquids will play a part in future energy policy and whether or not the United States should wait for an international agreement on climate policy.
(24 May 2007)

The Clinton-Obama Energy Plan

Glenn Hurowitz,
In their bids for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) have touted their environmental credentials. Yet despite compiling generally pro-environment voting records, at key moments each one has succumbed to pressure from powerful home-state polluters - casting doubt on how much they will fight for the planet when special interests stand in the way.

Clinton's moment of truth came in 2005, when executives at the International Paper mill in upstate Ticonderoga, N.Y., were pressing to cut costs by burning old tires to provide power for their operations. Tires are one of the most toxic fuels known to man, and people downwind from the plant (including Republican Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas) were organizing a campaign to stop IP from poisoning their air with mercury, benzene and other deadly chemicals.

...And so, despite the pollution concerns, Clinton went along with IP and lobbied to allow it to go ahead with a two-week test tire burn. Although that may not sound like a lot of time, tires are so toxic that the acrid cloud they produce can cause damage after even just a few hours of exposure.

...I wish I could report that Obama was offering a more principled energy policy. Unfortunately, even a cursory glance at his record shows a politician at least as willing to sacrifice his lofty principles for political expedience.

Exhibit A is Obama's enthusiastic support for "coal to liquid" technology, which allows auto fuel to be squeezed out of coal. Obama touts it as a way to free America from reliance on Saudi oil fields and to tackle global warming. However, coal-to-liquid technology produces twice the amount of greenhouse gases that regular old oil does; additionally, it's so expensive that it's unlikely to displace one drop of cheap Saudi oil anytime soon.

So why would he support it? What's more, why did he vote for other anti-environment policies, such as President Bush's 2005 energy bill, which funnels more than $27 billion in taxpayer subsidies to big polluters?

A huge factor in Obama's decisions was his desire to support Illinois agribusiness.

...So is there any hope for the Democrats' energy policy, or will it just be a liberal version of Bush's polluter bonanza?

The environmental and energy platforms of former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson provide some reason for optimism. While both Democratic presidential candidates have in the past surrendered to big polluters on key issues, lately they've been showing real grit when it comes to defending the planet.
(24 May 2007)
Also posted at Common Dreams.

Richardson unveils energy plan, vows to make energy central priority of campaign
(Transcript and video)
Gov. Bill Richardson
With many states holding their primaries earlier than usual next year, presidential candidates are out campaigning in full force. During today's E&ETV Event Coverage, Gov. Bill Richardson (D) of New Mexico unveils a new energy plan that he plans to implement if he is elected president.

Richardson explains his plans for fuel economy, a low carbon fuel standard, a renewable portfolio standard, decreased oil consumption and increased efficiency. He calls for a comprehensive approach to addressing climate change and our country's energy challenges. Richardson also explains why he believes nuclear energy should not be central to any energy policy.
(21 May 2007)

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