Candidate Positions on Climate Change


Hey candidates, you want my vote in November? Here it is then -- straight up -- what matters to me and my peeps: climate change and how our country will adapt and mitigate the current and future dangers we face. Equally important is how, and if, we can turn these negatives into opportunities for the United States and for our future.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, July 2012 was the hottest month on record in the US, followed by June 2012 where over 3,200 temperature records were broken or tied. Over 63 percent of the continental US is experiencing drought conditions as of August 2012. This follows the 12 hottest months period ever with 9 of the 10 hottest years having occurred since 2000.

Don't get me wrong: I care deeply about the economy, jobs and the debt crisis. However, as I see it, if we don’t start factoring in the real external costs of our fossil fuel energy use we will never be able to properly get a handle on our rising debt, let alone balance our budget or create lasting employment.

We are allowing our atmosphere to be used like an open sewer with coal, oil and gas companies free to pollute and with no one but us paying the costs. We need to take responsibility for the impacts of human-created emissions to our health and health care system, our security needs, our feed stocks, crops and water supply, not to mention the direct damages and costs from an extreme weather event. Please talk about these concerns when you talk about jobs and the economy.


Image: (Obama) Pete Marovich/UPPA, (Romney) Larry Fisher/Quad-City Times; ZUMA Press.


We aren’t the only ones looking to you for answers. An August 14th, 2012, a study by the Yale Project on Climate Change looks at the question: “Will candidates for political office benefit or be harmed by talking about and supporting action to reduce global warming?”

The findings should be of interest to you: “On balance, taking a pro-climate stand appears to benefit candidates more than hurt them across all spectrum of voters, with this pattern similar at both the national and swing-state scales.”

With this in mind, but in the absence of a public debate yet on climate change, I have scoured your campaign websites and your recorded words -- and the energy plan Romney released last night -- to try to understand where you stand on climate change. Here is what I have found thus far:

Mitt Romney: Republican Party Candidate

Your energy plan: Climate change is not mentioned at all. No mention of solar and wind energy projects except in passing. Asserts that the U.S. can achieve energy independence by 2020 and create jobs by opening up more land and offshore areas to energy production, approving permits faster, and partnering with countries like Canada and Mexico to share their fossil fuel.

Your website: You have 24 issue tabs listed on the main page -- neither the environment nor climate change specifically are listed as a tab heading or subheading. Energy is one of the 24 main issue tabs but the information found on the energy page focuses primarily on fossil fuel production and extraction, with mention of nuclear power generation. Solar and wind energy projects are mentioned as failures.

Regarding regulation, you say you would amend the Clean Air Act to exclude carbon dioxide from its purview; even though the Supreme Court has ruled that the carbon emissions are harmful and the EPA has the right to regulate them. You would ensure that environmental laws properly account for cost in the regulatory process; and you would provide multi-year lead times before companies must come into compliance with new environmental regulations.

Quotes from the past four years on climate change/global warming:

I believe that climate change is occurring. … I also believe that human activity is a contributing factor…I am uncertain how much of the warming, however, is attributable to man and how much is attributable to factors out of our control.” --No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, March 2010

"I think it's important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may well be significant contributors to the climate change and global warming that you're seeing." --June 2011

My view with regards to energy policy is pretty straightforward. I want us to become energy secure and independent of the oil cartels. And that means let’s aggressively develop our oil, our gas, our coal, our nuclear power.” --October 2011


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