The Democratic candidates in the 2008 presidential campaign weren't asked to say much about the environment, energy or climate change during their second televised debate Sunday night.
With the questions and answers focused almost entirely on Iraq, terrorism and related subjects, the most talk on environmental themes came with a question from the audience about how the candidates might lower record-high gas prices at the pump. Senator Chris Dodd said he'd raise the fuel economy of the average vehicle to 50 mpg.
"I've introduced a plan here that would require, by the year 2017, 50-miles-per-gallon standard for automobiles. I believe that can be done," he said, according to a New York Times transcript. "We ought to do it immediately, in my view, and a carbon tax, in my view, so that you make these polluting dependencies, the polluting fuels more expensive and encourage then for the use of revenues collected to move aggressively on developing the alternative technologies of solar and wind and other sources of energy we could use."
Former Senator Mike Gravel said a carbon tax, which he supports, would and should raise the price of gasoline to better reflect costs associated with the war in Iraq, which he implied is being fought in part to preserve American oil supplies.
"There's nothing I would do as president to lower the price of gasoline right now," he said, according to the transcript. "We Americans have to grow up. If we want to get off of the dependency in the Middle East, we have to own up to the problem. These things cost money. They're controlling our society." Former Senator John Edwards, and Senator Joseph Biden both said they would investigate record oil company profits and stop government subsidies for oil.
"The first thing we got to do is find out what's happening with these oil and gas companies, because we know they're making record amounts of money, we know that the same people that are refining the oil are selling it at the gas pump, so there's a huge vertical integration in this operation," Edwards said, according to the transcript. "I think there ought to be an investigation of the oil and gas companies by the Justice Department."
"Take away the subsidy, which I've introduced legislation to do. It's about $6 billion, 2.7 (billion dollars) directly, to the oil companies, number one," said Biden, according to the transcript.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson talked about his state's renewable energy incentives and his "Apollo" plan for energy that would require the "sacrifice of every American" in reaching the goals of reducing foreign dependence on oil, curbing global warming and reducing pollution.
"We need an Apollo program -- Apollo -- led by a president asking every American to sacrifice, to conserve, that would reduce our dependence on foreign oil, which is 65 percent imported, to 10," Richardson said, according to the transcript. "I have the most aggressive plan, according to the League of Conservation Voters."
And that was about it when it came to debate on the environment Sunday night.
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