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10/31/2008 02:54 PM     print story email story      

Will it Be Drill, Baby, Drill or Green Jobs, Baby, Green Jobs?

This comparison of the Presidential candidates positions illuminate the differences between them on our core green issues. Although both candidates will be more assertive than President Bush in tackling global warming and energy issues, McCain emphasizes oil drilling and aggressive nuclear expansion, while Obama envisions a new economy sparked by solar, wind and other renewable sources of energy.

Vote on November 4!!

The following discussion is excerpted from Ardour Capital's 2009 Renewable Energy Policy Preview.

Also see the League of Conservation Voters Scorecard. McCain has a 24% green voting record, while Obama has an 87% green voting record. See how your Congressional candidates voted on key energy and environmental issues.

Renewable energy advocates indicate that Senator Barack Obama is overwhelmingly their preferred choice. Figure 1 shows that renewable that energy is the only industry where Senator Obama leads in contributions. The oil and gas industry donated $1.7 million to Senator McCain and $500 thousand to Senator Obama.

Campaign contributions

Barak Obama

Renewables would play a central role in the nation's energy policy under an Obama administration. His official proposals on renewable energy include a variety of tax credits, research and development funding, and federal mandates aimed at increasing the use of renewable energy and creating clean energy jobs.

The most comprehensive of his energy proposals, in terms of effect on the federal budget, is a carbon cap-and-trade system that would direct $10 billion of annual proceeds to renewable energy research and development funding. He favors auctioning credits in the cap-and-trade plan, which has been proven by the European Union to be the most effective method. He also proposes a federal Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) of 25% by 2025, and a substantial increase in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

John McCain

Renewables will play a smaller role in the nation's energy policy, if Senator McCain wins the White House. His selection of Governor Sarah Palin as running mate is a key piece of evidence - she has clearly communicated her preference for fossil fuels as a primary energy source, and for opening the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) to oil drilling. McCain's central energy proposals are to:

(1) permit offshore drilling,
(2) expand the use of nuclear power, and
(3) set a market-based carbon cap-and-trade system.

His cap-and-trade proposal distinguishes him from most other Republicans, in that it negatively impacts fossil fuels companies, which make up a large and consistent source of financing for the Republican Party. He favors however, giving away a portion of the emission credits for free, which has been tested in the European Union and demonstrated that it doesn't work. McCain does not support a national RPS, which requires utilities to include an increasingly larger percentage of renewable energy in their resource portfolio.

Table 1. Energy Issue Statements of the Candidates




Renewable Electricity

"Believes system of tax credits will remain in place until renewable energy no longer merits the taxpayers' dollars."

"Extend the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) for five years."


"Eliminates mandates, subsidies, tariffs, and price supports that focus exclusively on corn-based ethanol."

"Require at least 60 billion gallons of advanced biofuels by 2030....Mandate all new vehicles be flexible-fuel vehicles [FFVs]."


"Construct 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030 with the ultimate goal of eventually constructing 100 new plants."

"Before an expansion of nuclear power is considered, key issues must be addressed including: security of nuclear fuel and waste, waste storage, and proliferation."

Electric Vehicles

"Propose a $300 million prize to improve battery technology for full commercial development of plug-in hybrid and fully electric automobiles.... Will commit a $5,000 tax credit for each and every customer who buys a zero carbon emission car."

"Get 1 million plug-in hybrid cars on the road by 2015.... Create a new $7,000 tax credit for purchasing advanced vehicles."

Offshore Drilling

"Commit our country to expanding domestic oil exploration."

"Require oil companies to diligently develop [existing] leases or turn them over so that another company can develop them."

Carbon Regulation

"Propose a cap-and-trade system that would set limits on greenhouse gas emissions -

2050 emissions target: 60% below 1990 levels."

"Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% [below 1990 levels] by 2050."

RenewablePortfolio Standard (RPS)

No proposal

"Ensure 10% of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012, and 25% by 2025."


"Reduce red tape to allow a serious investment to upgrade our national grid"

"Reduce electricity demand 15% from DOE's projected levels by 2020."

Green Buildings

"Apply a higher efficiency standard to new [federal government] buildings leased or purchased or retrofitting existing buildings."

"Establish a goal of making all new buildings carbon neutral by 2030.... Improve new building efficiency by 50% and existing building efficiency by 25% over the next decade."

R&D Funding

"Commit $2 billion annually to advancing clean coal technologies."

"Invest $150 billion over the next 10 years to catalyze private efforts to build a clean energy future."

Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standard

"Enforce existing CAFE standards."

"Increase fuel economy standards 4% each year."

Source: Candidates' websites


Getting it Straight on Nukes

McCain's Nuclear Plan Would Be an Economic and Environmental Disaster

Americans Want Renewable Energy, Not Coal and Nukes

Reader Comments (1)


Date Posted:
11/26/08 03:25 PM

Wouldn't it be nice if President Obama created a "Department of Sustainability" Cabinet Post? See the current government cabinet posts here:

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