The second presidential debate, which took place at Hofstra University in Hempstead, Long Island, was a town hall, where undecided voters got to ask the questions.
There were no questions related to climate change or energy, but the subject of energy did come up, mostly in response to a question about high gas prices. Obama and Romney battled over who is more supportive of fossil fuels.
Although Obama made it clear the US is drilling more than in the past 16 years, Romney's retort was that we're still not drilling enough on public lands and waters and that he would immediately approve the tar sands pipeline.
News out today supports Obama's contention: "The Obama administration has issued this year the most deep-water oil-drilling permits for the Gulf of Mexico since 2007 as high crude prices revive exploration slowed by the 2010 BP oil spill," reports Bloomberg.
Is a temporary slowdown OK after the greatest oil spill in US history?
Environmental groups argue that regulations are not in place that would prevent another disaster - they want the administration to stop further leasing in the Gulf, which is the largest source of domestic oil in the US. The American Petroleum Institute wants even more permits.
"What actions will you take to address climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions?"
Obama missed the opening to talk about climate change and the relationship to the tar sands pipeline (and the fact that the oil will be exported, not consumed here). And he could've turned to Americans and asked if they truly want to drill everywhere, even across our precious public lands - talking about the health and environmental impacts of that.
And even though Romney has clearly said he's against federal support for renewable energy, he got away with saying that "he likes wind too," when the president attempted to balance his support for fossil fuels with that for clean energy.
3000 Energy Questions
For last night's debate, 3000 questions were submitted by Google users on the subject of Energy and questions concerning Climate Change topped the category, says the National Wildlife Federation. But moderator Candy Crowley, who apparently decided on the questions, didn't include any on the topic.
And the third debate (next Monday) is focused solely on foreign policy. Although energy and climate change are clearly international issues, moderator, Bob Schieffer is expected to stick to the subjects of terrorism and the Middle East. There will be some openings in the subject of "America's role in the world" and "The Rise of China and Tomorrow's World. Here's the list of expected topics.
Here's a sample of the questions submitted for last night's debate, reports The Examiner:
"Governor Romney, how can you justify removing subsidies for alternative energy sources and keeping them in place for the oil industry? Please keep in mind you said that the entire energy industry should compete on a 'level playing field'."
"Both of you are concerned about the long term FINANCIAL debt being handed to our children. But what about the long term ENVIRONMENTAL debt that is being handed to them? How do you propose to reduce it, SPECIFICALLY carbon dioxide?"
"The U.S. has 3,900% more sun than Germany, but Germany produces 6,000% more solar energy than the U.S.? What does the next President of the U.S. plan to do to close the gap in green productivity and green labor?"
"Gov. Romney, there is nearly absolute scientific consensus that combustion of fossil fuels is driving climate change, at great cost to our health and wellbeing. As prez., how would you overcome opposition in your own party to addressing this crisis?"
"There is no longer any serious doubt among scientists that climate change, caused by fossil fuel burning, is now an imminent danger to the health, wealth, and well-being of our nation. What actions will you take to tackle this vital issue?"
"Do you have a specific plan to deal with climate change? If so please explain what your plan is and how it will be implemented and paid for. If you don't have a plan please explain why."
"Young people in Florida, and across the country, are working to move beyond dirty energy like coal, fracking & nuclear - what will your administration do to move beyond fossil fuels and address our generation's greatest challenge, the climate crisis?"
"Given the scientific support for the imminent dangers due to climate change, why do you espouse subsidies for the oil and gas industries, but would remove those for wind and solar?"
"Climate change is one of biggest problems facing the us, its also a huge financial opportunity. Germany is moving grid to renewable energy, China is spending billions on green technologies. What will you do about this opportunity to generate wealth?"
You may be interested in know that the presidential and vice-presidential candidates for the Green Party were arrested when they tried to hold a press conference outside the Hofstra debate. They were protesting not being included in the debate, even though they are on the ballot in 85% of states and are polling at 2-3% of the vote. The Federal Government recognizes Jill Stein as a qualified presidential candidate, by giving more than $100,000 dollars in matching funds to the Green Party.
Here's where you can hear them debate:
Thursday, October 18 -- The Independent Voter Network debate between Jill Stein and Gary Johnson (Libertarian candidate), 7 PM EST on http://ivn.us/, or on IVN.us' Google+ and YouTube page. More information.
Monday, October 22 -- Time TBA: Democracy Now continues its "Expanding the Debate" series with a live broadcast during the third presidential debate with real-time responses from Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and Justice Party nominee Rocky Anderson.
Thursday, October 23 & Tuesday October 30 -- Free and Equal Election's Alternative Debate will stream at 9 PM EST.
This debate will include Jill Stein from the Green Party; Gary Johnson from the Libertarian Party; Virgil Goode from the Constitution Party; and Rocky Anderson from the Justice Party. More information.