The candidates on energy: hot topic, diverse views
(Page 2 of 2)
Converting the nation's coal reserves to liquid motor fuel is another key departure from Democrats' positions. Mr. Romney, Mr. Giuliani, and Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado all support coal-to-liquid, or CTL, development. Other GOP candidates have no articulated position on CTL, the League of Conservation Voters reports.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Most Democrats don't support liquefied coal, although Senators Clinton and Obama have left the door open, saying they might support the technology if it can be made to produce fewer carbon emissions than does gasoline. Republicans (except McCain) and Democrats, facing tough caucuses in the corn-growing state of Iowa, favor ethanol subsidies.
Most Republicans support expansion of nuclear power. Most Democrats do not. But Clinton and Obama have indicated that they are open to more nuclear power to help the global-warming problem if waste disposal and proliferation problems can be solved.
With rising public concern over global warming and fossil-fuel burning, many candidates' energy plans zero in on this issue.
Mr. Edwards, who favors cutting US carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, this spring was the first to unveil an energy plan. Clinton weighed in this fall with a detailed plan for similar carbon cuts. But New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is even more aggressive in his timelines and goals, pushing for 90 percent carbon reductions by 2050, Mr. Karpinski says.
While several Republican candidates have said in speeches that global warming is real, most oppose any mandatory emissions cuts or have no stated position. Notable exceptions are Huckabee, who supports in principle a mandatory emissions cap, and McCain, who strongly supports a mandatory cap and was the first to cosponsor emissions-cap legislation.
"While there are meaningful differences among Democrats' plans, all acknowledge climate change as a major challenge and say quick action is needed," says Julia Bovey, who analyzes candidate positions for the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund, the political arm of the NRDC. "The Republican field is a far more mixed bag."
Renewable electricity and efficiency
Shifting electric utilities away from coal and toward renewable fuels like wind and biomass so it is increasing efficiency of electricity use instead of building more power plants is a major goal of most Democratic candidates. Most Republicans oppose such a requirement for renewable sources on the grid, though some have not stated a position.
While most Democrats favor a federal mandate to require that 20 to 25 percent of US electricity come from renewable sources by 2025, Governor Richardson has set a 30 percent target by 2020 and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio wants that much or more.
Finally, there's the question of the depth of commitment to a new national energy policy. At the first major forum on it earlier last month in Los Angeles, only three candidates showed up - all Democrats.
"We invited all the candidates to come. [We] really wanted them all there," the NRDC's Ms. Bovey says. "But only Clinton, Kucinich, and Edwards came."
Even so, candidates are focusing more on energy this time than ever before, say many.
"Energy has become a symbol of lack of US competitiveness, innovation, and even our geopolitical standing," says Paul Bledsoe, strategy director at the National Commission on Energy Policy. "So that's why candidates are talking about it. It's not just about energy; it's about American standing in the world."