Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Energy President?

The reviews that I have seen of Bill Richardson's record on energy and the environment over the years have always been fairly mixed. I should qualify that: mixed from the perspective of advocates of environmental policies -- but always reasonably good in the context of mainstream politicians. Grist magazine is running a series of interviews of (Democratic) presidential candidates, focusing on the environmental and energy policy planks of their respective platforms. While the aesthetic of Grist is pretty crunchy, there features can be decently substantive, and the few interviews I have scanned are worth a read. Grist also hails Bill Richardson's climate and energy plan as the "boldest and most visionary."

From Bill Richardson:
Right now, the most important domestic and national-security issues involve America becoming energy independent and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. I believe it's going to take an "energy president" who will lead this country toward these goals by asking all Americans to sacrifice for the common good and be more energy-efficient and promote a green style of living.
At the end of the day, it is still just rhetoric, but I am impressed that Richardson has proposed substantive targets in reducing emissions and increasing energy efficiency, broached the question of nuclear and biofuels, cited Brazil as an exemplar in energy policy, and invoked the 'S' word - Sacrifice - when discussing energy policy. Also curious to me that the twin messages of climate change and energy independence don't seem to be playing a major role in the Democratic primaries to-date.

The other candidates?

John Edwards, long on rhetoric:
The thing that I am certain is true is that our dependence on oil has an incredibly negative effect in trying to stop the forces of terrorism. It props up bad governments, particularly in the Middle East, who don't educate their kids, don't reform their governments, don't economically develop, and in many cases are largely isolated from the rest of the world, and the main reason is because they are on drugs, and that drug is oil. So long as they are mainlining oil, they will never reform.

Which is why America needs to make a switch from our addiction to oil and carbon-based fuels to wind, solar, safer biofuels, and cleaner renewable energy, which will have positive impacts far beyond economic impacts. No. 1: It will create at least 1 million "green-collar jobs" in this country. No. 2: When we drive down the price of oil, it creates an environment where these countries that are mainlining oil all of the sudden have no choice, and they have to reform, they have to educate their kids, they have to economically develop.
Hillary Clinton, lots of names dropped and a win-win rhetoric, but not sure if there is a real plan in there:
I have worked to pass the Brownfields Revitalization Act and the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act. I've taken many actions specific to New York, like pushing for the Hudson River cleanup by GE. I have been very committed on health-related effects -- that is why I've got legislation to try to deal with asthma and other respiratory diseases and to reduce pollution from power plants. Time and time again I have tried to protect public lands, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. I cosponsored the Roadless Area Conservation Act to try and get back what my husband had done as president to protect the National Forest system. I believe strongly in supporting the "polluter pays" principle, and I am going to work to try to reinstate that.
Barack Obama, the right rhetoric, a solid approach, but is the depth of analysis really there:
I consider energy to be one of the three most important issues that we're facing domestically, along with revamping our education system and fundamentally reforming our health-care system. And the opportunities for significant change exist partly because awareness of the threat of climate change has grown rapidly over the last several years. Al Gore deserves a lot of credit for that, as do activists in the environmental community and outlets like Grist. People recognize the magnitude of the [climate] problem and are ready to take it on.


Jb1125 said...

See this where the Illinois Environmental Leaders speak out for Barack Obama: http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1126028636/bctid1126051527

Ritik Dholakia said...

Thanks, I'll check it out.