EcoBroker International Article
By Ryan Moehring
With just about a month to go before one of the most anticipated presidential elections in U.S. history, we thought that you might appreciate a non-partisan snapshot on where the candidates stand on climate and energy issues.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Both candidates support a cap-and-trade system. For the uninitiated, this type of system is designed to cut overall emissions by a predetermined, legally enforced percentage. Every large-scale carbon emitter has to obtain a permit for every ton of carbon dioxide it emits into the atmosphere. Over time, the limits become stricter until the ultimate reduction goal is met. This is the cap. The trade results when companies who do not use all of their permits sell them to companies who cannot make their reductions. In this way, overall reductions are assured and more efficient companies are rewarded. Under Barack Obama’s plan, U.S. emissions would be cut by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. John McCain proposes reducing emissions by 60 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. While Obama would auction off 100 percent of emission credits, McCain would initially give away credits then eventually phase in a similar auction structure. McCain would also allow companies to buy carbon offsets instead of reducing their emissions, a policy Obama opposes.
John McCain recently unveiled his Lexicon Project, which is described on his web site as an “all of the above energy solution.” McCain supports renewable energy and concedes that “green jobs and green technology will be vital to our economic future,” but he has not offered a specific plan to date. He has said that he will “encourage the market for alternative, low carbon fuels such as wind, hydro, and solar power.” Obama supports a renewable portfolio standard. Under his plan, the U.S. would get 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2012. That number would increase to 25 percent by 2025. Over the next 10 years, Obama would invest $150 billion in renewables, biofuels, and efficiency, an endeavor he claims will create 5 million green jobs.
John McCain is an ardent supporter of nuclear power and has pledged to build 45 new nuclear plants in the U.S. by 2030, eventually increasing that number to 100 new plants. Barack Obama has stated that nuclear power should “continue to be part of the energy mix,” but has also stated that it is “not a great option,” citing concerns with safety and storage of spent nuclear reactive fuel rods. Obama has opposed storage of such nuclear waste at the Yucca Mountain storage facility.
Both candidates have been accused of “flip-flopping” on the issue of offshore drilling. Historically, Barack Obama has opposed opening up our coastal waters to drilling. In August 2008, he conceded that he would consider “some” offshore drilling if doing so would ensure the passage of a comprehensive energy plan. John McCain also has strongly opposed domestic offshore drilling in the past. However, his stance has recently changed and he now supports drilling. According to his web site, “the current federal moratorium on drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf stands in the way of energy exploration and production.”
Fuel Economy Standards
Both candidates have said that fuel economy standards for automobiles should be raised. While John McCain has not offered specific targets, he has said that he would more strictly enforce existing standards, as many auto manufacturers routinely ignore them and opt to pay a small fine for their noncompliance. Barack Obama has suggested spending $4 billion to help auto manufacturers update their plants to produce more efficient vehicles. He would also increase fuel efficiency standards by 4 percent, which equals roughly one mile per gallon, per year. Obama also supports putting one million plug-in hybrids on the road by 2012. McCain has pledged to give away a $300 million prize to the developer of a battery that significantly bolsters the storage capacity of plug-in and hybrid vehicles.
To learn more about the candidates’ positions on other critical energy and environmental issues, please visit the following websites:
Descriptions of the candidates and their policies are not and should not be perceived as endorsements. EcoBroker does not endorse political candidates. However, we do hope that the preceding paragraphs provide you with enough information to spark your interest and encourage you to learn more about the issues. Voting is an important right you hold as an American and we sincerely hope that you will exercise that right this November