Given the amount of time immigration, Iraq, and national security have been getting on the political punditry airwaves, there has been precious little left over for devilish details like energy. As Iowa gets its caucus on, let’s revisit our coverage of the candidates and see where they stand on what we think the most important issue of this generation will be: clean energy.
- Hillary Clinton, whom we offered up as a possible Greentech Queen for the country, has used some of the strongest language in articulating her energy policy, evoking an environmental moonshot in calling for an “Apollo-like project” to achieve American energy independence. Clinton shares the goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 with her fellow Democratic contenders. And like nearly all of the candidates, she wants to put billions in cleantech research.
- Barack Obama is moving in the cleantech direction with his plans for a “Clean Technologies Deployment Venture Capital Fund,” which he said would be created “to ensure that promising technologies move beyond the lab and are commercialized in the U.S.” He’s also tough on corn ethanol and wants to see more cellulosic ethanol in the marketplace, to the tune of $150 billion over the next decade.
- John Edwards, who was our top pick among the green Dems, is particularly tough on transportation: he’s pushing for more ethanol in our gasoline, and wants all cars to be flexfuel by 2010. He’s even set his sights on farm equipment, proposing tougher fuel efficiency standards for your next John Deere.
- Joe Biden lists “responsible policy toward Iran” first on his energy to-do list. Biden also wants to increase individualized fuel inefficiency standards by 4 percent per year, which would bump the current 27.5 mpg standard up to 40 mpg by 2017. Other goals of his eight-point energy and climate plan include an increase in biofuel production, encouraging governmental and personal energy efficiency, and the creation of green jobs in the “technology of tomorrow.”
- Chris Dodd is all about a carbon tax, something he hopes would generate $50 billion in revenue, which would be put into the Corporate Carbon Tax Trust Fund to fund cleantech R&D. And he wants the strictest fuel efficiency standards of all: 50 mpg by 2017. Unlike nearly every other candidate, Dodd is adamantly opposed to “coal-to-liquid” technologies and would insist that all new coal power plants capture and sequester CO2, “no exceptions.”
- Mike Huckabee was a long shot back in October when we chose him as the greenest Republican. Now the Arkansan is polling strongly and says that the first thing he would do as president is send his “comprehensive plan for energy independence” to Congress. The great orator has lamented how “pathetically behind the curve we are” on funding cleantech; he’s said he would want American energy independence by the end of his second term.
- John McCain is one of the few Republican candidates to address global warming head on; in fact, he lists it among his top three priorities. His record is strong: he introduced the McCain-Lieberman Environmental Stewardship Act in 2003, which would have instituted a cap-and-trade system. McCain invokes the wisdom of staunch environmental steward Theodore Roosevelt. Using market forces, McCain plans to cap carbon emissions and quickly bring alternative energy sources, notably nuclear, to the market.
- Mitt Romney phrases his energy policy as “ending energy dependence,” something he aims to do by “dramatically” increasing cleantech R&D, notably for cleaner fossil fuel projects. Additionally Romney wants to bring more nuclear power online and increase domestic fossil fuel production by opening up ANWR to oil and natural gas exploration.
- Rudy Giuliani puts energy independence at number six on his “12 Commitments to America.” He plans to invest in infrastructure to help connect new renewable energy sources to the grid, as transmission lines will likely be a limiting factor. Additionally, Giuliani has said he would institute an “EnergyStat” system to measure our success in moving towards energy independence and fighting global warming.
- Fred Thompson looks to pursue energy independence to reduce the threat to our national security. It seems like nearly every point on Thompson’s agenda is in relation to a “threat” we as Americans are constantly facing. His policy states that “while we don’t know for certain how or why climate change is occurring, it makes sense to take reasonable steps to reduce CO2 emissions without harming our economy.” Overall, his energy policy is the most non-committal; it speaks only in general terms of investing in the “technologies of tomorrow” and working for a “cleaner environment.”
- Ron Paul wants to use the small-government system that he uses for all of his policies to address pollution and environmental degradation. Paul wants to start by ending government subsidies to polluters and other projects that harm the environment, specifically logging in national forests. And as stipulated in the legislation he co-sponsored, H.R. 550 and H.R. 1772, he wants to extend tax credits to develop solar power and fuel cells, as well as to help wind energy.
- Dennis Kucinich says that one of the first things he’d do in office is join the Kyoto Protocol and implement its recommendations. After global warming, Kucinich sees water security at the next biggest environmental issue and he would make all water part of the public domain. While his issue page lists Kucinich’s environmental record, it gives very few specifics on how he would continue to protect the environment and even less on how he would grow our green economy.