Energy, smart growth, climate change and the 2008 candidates (Part 1)

After watching some of the debates over the last few weeks, and partially inspired by a similar post from Rob Goodspeed on the Planetizen Interchange, I pieced together this very abridged summary of where some of the current candidates stand on some of the environmental, transportation, energy and urban issues that our coalition cares about.

Mind you, all the issues have not risen to the level of a position statement drafted for each candidate, so we’ve gathered what we can from the candidates’ websites, the debates, and some interviews. FYI, Grist and the League of Conservation Voters have both done exhaustive comparisons between the candidates on environmental platforms, with much more in-depth analysis than we’ve got here.

As a reminder, Smart Growth America is endorsing neither a candidate nor a party. This is solely for informational purposes. Have we missed something or has a candidate changed their stance? Let us know in the comments.

Part one will be the Republican candidates, and part two covers the Democrats.


The Republican field

There is no mention of “smart growth” or anything related in any of the online materials from the Republican candidates. Views on climate vary, with McCain and Huckabee certainly out front of the rest with talk of a cap and trade system. Most of the candidates are advocating for voluntary measures to reduce emissions similar to what President Bush has thus far proposed. Other than McCain, energy issues are spoken of in terms of ending dependence on foreign oil.

There’s no mention of anything having to do with core transportation decisions, funding metropolitan planning organizations, or increasing funding for public transit.

Of the few that are outspoken in their support of the recent passage of legislation moving fuel standards to 35 mpg, none make the connection that the projected increases in driving will overwhelm those improvements, a la Growing Cooler.

On to the candidates, in no particular order after the jump

Mike Huckabee

Huckabee appears to pin much hope for cutting fuel consumption and reducing greenhouse gases on realizing greater fuel efficiency in cars, as well as expanding our energy portfolio to more diverse, renewable, and carbon-friendly sources.

From his site: “Dwindling supplies and increasing demand from newly-industrialized countries of fossil fuels are driving up prices. These price increases will facilitate innovation and the opportunity for independence. We have to explore, we have to conserve, and we have to pursue all avenues of alternative energy: nuclear, wind, solar, hydrogen, clean coal, biodiesel, and biomass.”

When asked about climate change in the December CBS debate, he’s noncommittal about whether humans are causing it, but regardless, he is the only Republican other than McCain to support any form of cap and trade:

“I think we ought to have some cap and trade. It worked with acid rain. I think it could work with Co2 emissions. I think we ought to be out there talking about ways to reduce energy consumption and waste. And we ought to declare that we will be free of energy consumption in this country within a decade, bold as that is. Frankly, it’s a matter of national security to get to the point where we’re not dependent upon oil coming from countries who, frankly, aren’t very friendly to us.”

Here is a fact sheet, focused mostly on Huckabee’s environmental stance and record from Grist. He also supports the Senate bill’s increase in fuel economy standards to an average of 35 MPG by 2020 as long overdue,” emphasizing the need for more ethanol production and use.

John McCain

John McCain doesn’t have much detailed information on his “environment” issue page, but he has worked to curb global warming, and has been in favor of a cap and trade system, proposing mandatory national cuts in emissions as far back as 2003. In his video entitled “Environment,” he says: “I think climate change is real. I think it’s devastating. I think we have to act…The overwhelming evidence is that greenhouse gases are contributing to the warming of our earth.”

On the CBS Debate from the Sierra Club blog: “I have been to Greenland, I have been to the South Pole. I’ve been to the Arctic and I know it’s real. I believe that we’ve got to go back to nuclear power. We’ve got to do alternative energy. We’ve got to have a cap and trade proposal which Joe Lieberman and I have proposed.”

Like the other Republican candidates, there doesn’t seem to be any specific mention of transportation funding, smart growth, or reducing driving as a means to curbing emissions and fuel consumption.

Mitt Romney

As Governor of Massachussetts, Romney helped start a statewide smart growth office, picking up on Gov. Glendening’s leadership in Maryland — even improving on it. Many good things are happening at the state level today, due to Gov. Romney’s work in this area.

There is no “environment” issue tab on his website, but he does have “Ending Energy Dependence:”

“This kind of energy independence will also mean pursuing ample domestic sources of energy: more drilling offshore and in ANWR, nuclear power, renewable sources, ethanol, biodiesel, solar, wind, and full exploitation of coal – both solid and liquid.

Invest In Research. Dramatically increase federal spending on research, development, and demonstration projects that hold promise for diversifying our energy supply and increasing our energy efficiency, such as: Basic research in key technologies like improved energy storage, bringing clean energy technology to market through commercialization of large-scale renewables and advanced nuclear technologies, improved smart-grid technology for power distribution, and clean, efficient uses of existing fossil fuels, e.g. clean coal, coal-to-liquids, carbon sequestration.”

On climate change from the CBS Debate: “I think the risks of climate change are real. And that you’re seeing real climate change. And I think human activity is contributing to it. I would develop sources of energy which would allow us to be free of foreign oil. But sources that don’t emit Co2. And that’s nuclear power, clean-burning coal, all of our renewable resources and so forth. I also wanna see greater efficiencies in our autos, in our homes, in our businesses. That’ll get us energy independent.”

Rudy Giuliani

He has no “environment” issue tab, but these are taken from his “Energy Independence” page:

Ethanol and Bio-fuels: America will use bio-fuels to help displace foreign oil use by our vehicles. Corn and cellulosic ethanol, as well as bio-diesel will play a role. The bio-fuels industry can help revitalize rural America. Clean Coal: America possesses 27% of the world’s coal. We must commercialize clean coal technologies, including carbon sequestration, so we can utilize this vast domestic resource. Natural Gas: We should use clean-burning natural gas, especially to replace oil in large truck and bus fleets.”

“North American Oil and Gas: America must expand environmentally-responsible access to the proven oil and natural gas reserves throughout North America, including in Canada and Mexico. Efficiency And Conservation: America’s government, corporations, and individuals must engage in efficiency and conservation efforts that reduce demand for oil, without damaging America’s competitiveness worldwide or our standard of living. We need to use more energy-efficient technologies and take personal responsibility for conserving energy. Every gallon of gas and any electricity we do not use is energy we do not import and pollution we reduce.”

From the CBS Debate: “There is global warming. Human beings are contributing to it. I think the best answer to it is energy independence. We’ve got more coal reserves in the US than they have oil reserves in Saudi Arabia. If we find a way to deal with it and use it so it doesn’t hurt the environment, we’re going to find ourselves not contributing to global warming and also being more energy independent. I think we have to take another look at nuclear power.”

Fred Thompson

From his “Issues” page on “Energy Independence”:

“And while we don’t know for certain how or why climate change is occurring, it makes sense to take reasonable steps to reduce CO2 emissions without harming our economy. Overall, I am committed to: A balanced approach to energy security that increases domestic supplies, reduces demand for oil and gas, and promotes alternative fuels and other diverse energy sources. Investing in renewable and alternative fuels to promote greater energy independence and a cleaner environment. An energy policy that invests in the advanced technologies of tomorrow and places more emphasis on conservation and energy efficiency. Conducting research and development into technologies that improve the environment, especially the reduction of CO2 emissions.”

Ron Paul

As the committed libertarian in the bunch of Republicans, Dr. Paul comes down firmly on the side of those who would advocate to remove the assurances we have through planning and zoning that our neighbors can’t remove their house and replace it with a gravel pit if they so desire.

He voted for H.R. 4772, the so-called private property rights act, that failed to address eminent domain abuse but would have undermined the zoning that protects property values. (Read the SGA press release) [pdf]

His “environment” issue page mostly centers on the protection of property rights as the solution. This excerpt is from his regular column as a member of the House:

“The demand for gasoline has risen dramatically in America due to population growth in recent decades, but virtually no new refining capacity has been added. Basic economics tells us that rising demand and a fixed supply will lead to higher prices. No amount of congressional grandstanding about price gouging will change this economic reality. We must increase domestic exploration, drilling, and refining if we hope to maintain reasonable gas prices. We need more competition, which means we need less government.”