The big day is finally here, folks! You can have your say in how the federal and local governments will deal with clean energy, alternative transportation, getting the U.S. off foreign oil and fighting climate change. Obviously there’s the historic presidential election, but there are also a variety of state and local initiatives looking at these issues in your various states and cities — read ’em carefully, there are some tricky ones out there. What are the deal breakers for you?
Obama’s alternative energy plan entails doling out $150 billion over 10 years to fund projects in a broad swath of cleantech sectors. Obama’s overarching environmental goal is to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below our 1990 levels by 2050, and he wants to institute a cap-and-trade system to manage carbon emissions where 100 percent of the credits will be auctioned off, ensuring that all polluters pay for all of their pollution.
On the individual green issues, Obama is a strong advocate of biofuels (some say too strong), backs clean coal (though Palin says he wants to bankrupt coal) and is generally supportive of nuclear. Obama wants to improve vehicular greenhouse gas emission standards by 5 percent in 2015 and 10 percent in 2020. He says that by boosting the corporate automobile fuel economy (CAFE) standard to 43 miles per gallon we could cut out the need for all of the oil we import from the Middle East. Here’s our FAQ on his energy plan.
Obama’s VP pick, Delaware senator Joseph Biden, is a good one to boost his energy policies. Biden has a three-decade senate record that includes a solid history of establishing climate change and energy policies, and as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he has a perspective on how those policies will jive with the international community.
McCain/Palin Ticket: McCain co-authored some of the first proposed legislation in the Senate for mandatory greenhouse gas reductions, and seeks to reduce carbon emissions to 2005 levels by 2012, to 1990 levels by 2020 and then to 60 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. That’s slightly less aggressive than Obama. But like Obama he supports a cap and trade system, though he hasn’t described exactly how he wants those credits allocated.
On the individual clean energy issues McCain is very aggressive when it comes to nuclear and has called for 100 new nuclear power plants, 45 of which he wants built by 2030. When it comes to biofuels, McCain does not support subsidizing ethanol, nor tariffs on imported sugarcane-based biofuels, but isn’t against biofuels as a technology. McCain has also said he will offer a $300 million prize for development of the best green car battery.
McCain’s VP pick of Sarah Palin, who has been busy stumping (for oil drilling) at cleantech startups, is an interesting and controversial one for energy issues. While Palin has a lot of hands-on experience with Alaska’s energy iniatives, she has said she doesn’t attribute climate change solely to the action of man.
Proposition 1A: This proposition calls for a high-speed rail system that would cost $9.95 billion in state bonds, would need $19.4 billion to pay off, with payments that average $647 million per year for more than 30 years. Bullet trains are crucial parts of public transportation throughout the world, but this project has been in the works for years and has been prohibitively expensive.
Proposition 7: The “Solar and Clean Energy Act” calls for the California Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which currently says utilities have to generate 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2010, to be raised to 40 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2025. The proposition also says the RPS should be broadened to include public utilities, too. Ratepayers could see a 3 to 10 percent hike in their energy bill, but the proposition would allow contracted, as well as installed, renewable energy to count toward meeting the RPS. Opponents (including big utilities, small cleantech startups, environmental organizations and the California Chamber of Commerce) are concerned that the proposal says that installations less than 30 megawatts wouldn’t qualify for fast-tracked certification.
Proposition 10: The California Renewable Energy and Clean Alternative Fuel Act is backed by T. Boone Pickens and Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy. Wonder why? While the proposition calls for $2.88 billion for alternative fuel vehicle rebates for natural gas, electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, and $1.25 billion for renewable energy R&D, opponents says natural gas vehicles will likely get the bulk of the support.