Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Will Green Issues Affect Your Vote This November?

This election, there are many issues to consider when choosing which candidate will best lead our country. Although the candidates stance on environmental issues will not dictate who wins this election; topics such as climate change, energy, green jobs, and environmental protections are critical to all of our futures' whether we be democrat, republican or unaffiliated. These topics deserve debate time too. So far in this election, the candidates have touched on gas prices, fuel efficiency standards and pathways to energy independence. According to a study conducted by the Yale Center on Climate Change 68% of voters believe we should be making a medium to large scale effort to stop climate change, so why aren't we talking about it? So, with some reading between the lines we have tried to outline each candidates stance on the this subject-hope it helps!

The Obama Campaign:

Although he has not talked much about environmental issues so far this campaign, Barack Obama has openly stated, “denying climate change doesn’t make it stop”, and past decisions and voting history shows his support for the environmental movement. Obama is not the greenest candidate, but he has made some steps in the right direction. 

  • Earlier this year, Obama rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline’s proposed route that would go from Canada to Texas (although he suggested that a shorter pipeline proposal instead). 
  • While both candidates feel that energy independence is important, Obama has said that clean energy needs to be explored and grown and fossil fuel exploration can not be our only source of domestic energy. 
"But what I've also said is we can't just produce traditional sources of energy; we've also got to look to the future. That's why we doubled fuel efficiency standards on cars. That means that in the middle of the next decade, any car you buy, you're going to end up going twice as far on a gallon of gas. That's why we've doubled clean energy production like wind and solar and biofuels. And all these things have contributed to us lowering our oil imports to the lowest levels in 16 years....And if we are only thinking about tomorrow or the next day and not thinking about 10 years from now, we're not going to control our own economic future, because China, Germany -- they're making these investments. And I'm not going to cede those jobs of the future to those countries. I expect those new energy sources to be built right here in the United States." - last night's presidential debate
  • In terms of oil subsidies, Obama said during last weeks debate, "Does anybody think that Exxon Mobil needs some extra money every time you go to the pump? Why wouldn't we want to eliminate that?" Romney quickly shot back that he believes in the oil subsidies.
  • Last week Obama said, “On energy, I’m big on oil and gas, and developing clean coal technology, but I also believe that if we’re ever going to have control of our energy future, then we’ve got to invest in solar and wind and biofuels, and that it does make sense for us to double our fuel-efficiency standards on cars.” It’s not the perfect answer, but this candidate’s stance is better than the alternatives.  
  • In regards to drilling permits- Gov. Romney is correct that the number of permits has declined during the Obama administration. This has happened for two reasons: 1) Permits that had been granted to oil companies were not being used- use it or lose it! 2) And after deepwater horizon deep water drilling froze and shallow water drilling slowed. We are now approaching pre-spill levels. 

The Romney Campaign:

Mitt Romney has openly made a mockery of Obama’s plans to slow climate change. At the Republican National Convention, Romney said, “President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans — [bites lip and pauses for audience laughter] — and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.” 

  • While Romney tries to avoid discussing the issue any further, his running mate Paul Ryan has made it clear that he does not think the environment is of concern and has even questioned the motives of climate change scientists. 
"Ryan questions the reliability of climate science, and in 2011 he opposed an amendment recognizing "that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare." Beyond the scientific questions, Ryan also has a history of opposing legislative action on climate change, voting against the cap-and-trade initiative in 2009, saying "This bill is not about science, it's not about costs and benefits; it's about ideology." " - Hayley Dunning, The Scientist
  • Ryan recently said in Ohio two weeks ago that Day 1 in office they would approve the Keystone XL Pipeline as the pipeline is the key to building jobs. 
  • The Romney campaign has attacked the Obama campaign for investing in green energy and companies and failing. Romney has ignored renewable energy, pushed the need for only coal and oil, and ignored environmental issues all together.
"In the energy sector, Ryan supports the idea of reliable renewable energy sources, but thinks federal funding is not the way to go, repeatedly arguing that government should not "pick winners and losers." He consistently voted against federal funding for energy initiatives such as research into wind and solar energy and improving the design of nuclear and "clean coal" plants. He did, however,suggest in 2000 that opening federal land, such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to oil and gas drilling could raise some funds for alternative energy research." - Hayley Dunning, The Scientist
  • Loss of wildlife is not a concern of Gov. Romney's: 
"Mr. Romney, to illustrate his charge that Mr. Obama was hostile to the oil industry, said that the Obama administration had criminally prosecuted oil companies working in North Dakota for killing migratory birds. True. In September 2011, the United States attorney for North Dakota charged seven oil and natural gas companies for killing 28 migratory birds found dead near oil waste lagoons" - John M. Broder, reporter, NY Times

With due respect to both candidates- neither has spent time discussing the issue of climate change.

Our questions for the candidates:

  • What is clean coal?
  • Romney claims he can make us energy independence in 8 years - but at what cost?
  • When did we start using our own facts? Shouldn't something be indisputable? 
Treehugger has questions too! 

Here's # 8
 NASA climatologist James Hansen has said that exploitation of the Canadian tar sands means "game over" for the climate, due to the massive amount of stored carbon contained in this unconventional fossil fuel source, yet both Governor Romney and President Obama have essentially giving support for efforts to expand its importation into the United States. What's your position on increasing use of unconventional fossil fuels such as tar sands?

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