Jill Stein is releasing a TV ad today which links the policies of Obama and Romney to the increased floods, fires and droughts that the planet is currently experiencing. “I like coal,” says Romney in the ad. “We built enough pipeline to wrap around the entire earth once,” boasts Obama.
Will some voters react to Hurricane Sandy by casting "climate votes" for the Green Party? That is what in fact happened last year in Germany as the German Green Party, die Grunen, grew by over 70% as voters reacted to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.
Stein is the only national presidential candidate who has made climate change and a 100% renewable energy economy a major focus of her campaign. She supports reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere to below 350 ppm. The Green New Deal, the centerpiece of her campaign, includes investing hundreds of billions of dollars to transition to a carbon neutral economy, paid for through cuts to the military budget, elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels and nukes, and higher taxes on the wealthy and Wall Street.
The world already has five times as much oil, coal and gas available as climate scientists say the atmosphere can tolerate. So rather than drill for more fossil fuels, we must keep 80 percent of those reserves locked away safely underground to avoid a climate disaster. While recognizing that climate change is already underway, Stein has laid out a number of major steps that should be taken to slow it down. Stein said that the government must also begin investing in how to mitigate its impacts.
Meanwhile, Obama and Romney are heading in a very different direction.
Obama’s energy policies include:
- Increased drilling for oil -- In January 2012, Obama announced that he will open more than 75% of potential offshore oil and gas resources to exploration. Even the normally staid National Resources Defense Council felt compelled to remind the president that "feeding our addiction to fossil fuels is not the long-term solution." Obama did later back off a bit, and has delayed offshore oil development along the Atlantic coast. But in September 2012, Obama gave Shell Oil initial approval to begin dangerous oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska.
- Investing $5 billion in clean coal -- The Obama administration has invested $5 billion in clean coal technology. In fact, coal production has increased by 7% under Obama.
- Hydrofracking of natural gas -- The White House has promoted the hydrofracking of natural gas, a fossil fuel, both at home and abroad, ignoring the public health concerns about the technology, such as air and water pollution.
- Impeding international action to address climate change -- Obama has not only failed to provide leadership on international action on climate change but has continued the Clinton-Bush approach of being the major impediment to such progress. Friends of the Earth, after the failed Copenhagen climate change conference, noted that "Obama has deeply disappointed not only those listening to his speech at the UN talks, he has disappointed the whole world." Obama offered in Copenhagen to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 4% below 1990 levels.
Romney supports all of Obama's bad initiatives, plus:
- Even more drilling for oil -- The centerpiece of Romney's call for "energy independence by 2020" is a greater expansion of offshore oil drilling than what Obama supports, including in the mid-Atlantic. He wants states to have the power to establish all forms of energy production on federal lands, which faces strong Congressional opposition. Romney's proposals make little mention of renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar. He supports the development of liquefied coal.
- Reducing state subsidies to fossil fuel companies -- Romney has stated "I do not want to raise taxes on oil companies." He also remarked that "big oil is making a lot of money right now, and I’d like to see them using that money to invest in refineries."
- Denying climate change altogether – Appearing at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA, on October 27, 2011, Mitt Romney attacked the idea of responding to climate change. "My view is that we don't know what's causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us," he said.
- Excluding carbon dioxide from Clean Air Act -- On August 3, 2012 Romney unveiled his economic plan, including energy and environment policy. Regulatory changes included: "Amend Clean Air Act to exclude carbon dioxide from its purview." The plan also says: "The United States is blessed with a cornucopia of carbon-based energy resources. Developing them has been a pathway to prosperity for the nation in the past and offers similar promise for the future."