Eco-Presidential

With the party campaigns grinding down, one would think that we would be starting to get a better idea of the specifics for each candidates plans for different things. After all, how many debates were there this year? However, it seems to me that the majority of the focus has been on a handful of issues (although they are important issues): Iraq, immigration and health care have led the topics, but another huge topic has been the environment – or rather, specific facets of the environment: fuel and climate. Go to any candidates website, any major news site or pretty much anywhere else and you’ll see a section on the candidate’s stance on “The Environment”:

But the scope of that section is always fuel and climate, and while they might differ in how they will deal with those issues, it’s still just one small aspect of the environmental policy of this country. Paul does the best at speaking to something else on the site itself, while Obama does tackle some other issues in his downloadable “Read the Environmental Plan”. But I wanted to know more about what all of the remaining candidates felt about different issues regarding the environment: conservation, endangered species, clean air and water, national park lands, drilling and mine rights on Federal land, the EPA and BLM and more. And you know what I found?

ALMOST NOTHING.

After almost an hour of looking, it seemed like the only environmental opinions that any of the candidates had was a) Global Warming; b) Lowering Dependence on Foreign Oil. Don’t get me wrong – those are very important, but at this point in the race, I think we know how all of them feel – which is to say, they all want to lower both (a) and (b), while keeping jobs in the U.S. Their methods differ slightly, but the overall point is the same. So, what about the rest of it?

I finally found some information on the League of Conservation Voters website, particularly their 2008 Presidential Primaries Voter Guide, which gives the breakdown of each candidate on several additional issues. They scored all of the candidates on their environmental records and stances over a variety of issues:

  1. Obama – 96
  2. Clinton – 90
  3. McCain – 26
  4. Paul – 20
  5. Huckabee – 0 (he hasn’t voted federally, so they don’t have a voting record to count).

But the real meat was their Presidential Profiles page, which actually goes more in-depth on how the candidates feel about the issues beyond the global warming and energy areas. For each candidate, they give an overall scorecard, followed by each individual category:

  1. Global Warming and Energy
    • Mandatory Emission Caps
    • International Action on Global Warming
    • Fuel Efficiency Standards
    • Renewable Energy Standards
    • Efficiency Standards
    • Nuclear Energy
    • Liquid Coal
    • New Coal Plants
  2. Public Health
    • Air Pollution
    • Superfund “Polluter Pays”
    • Chemical Security
    • Clean Water Act
    • Environmental Justice
    • Pesticides and Rural Communities
  3. Natural Heritage
    • Oceans: Marine Life
    • Oceans: Offshore Drilling
    • Endangered Species Act
    • Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
    • National Forest Roadless Areas
    • Mining
  4. Funding
    • Land and Water Conservation Fund
    • National Parks
  5. The Larger Context
    • International Trade Agreements
    • Federal Pre-emption of State Laws
    • World Population
    • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

The great thing about this is that they sent the same questionnaires to all of the candidates, and relied on the answers given (supported by their voting records) for their scoring. You can read the text of each question from within the report, so you can get an idea of how the questions were framed, and understand how the candidates were answering. The fact that it touches on such a breadth of topics is great – it gives me a lot more information on who is thinking of which pieces of the environmental pie outside of the mainstream media’s focus – is fantastic. It’s just a shame that it took me so long to find this information – but I think it’s worthwhile to take the time to find out about what our next President might feel about the environment. Especially when they’re going to have a heck of a job cleaning up the mess that the Bush administration has made.

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