Sen. John Edwards
Edwards plans a $13 billion annual 'New Energy Economy Fund,' which would invest in new energy technology, slash greenhouse gas emissions 80% and create 150,000 jobs a year.
How He'd Pay for It:
Elimination of oil company subsidies and proceeds from auctioning carbon credits allotted as part of a cap-and-trade greenhouse gas pollution regulation.
What Sets Him Apart:
Create a GreenCorps within AmeriCorps to do encourage volunteers to undertake efficiency and environmental projects to earn forgiveness of college loans.
By Dan Shapley
"Today, among scientists, there is no longer any real debate over whether humans are making the planet hotter we already have, and the impact is already making itself felt in violently shifting weather patterns, rising sea levels and water temperatures, agricultural failure and decreasing biodiversity. The prognosis is bleak, but it does not have to be. We are at a point at which the future is determined by the choices we make and the action we take."
John Edwards, April 22
Sen. John Edwards has made energy and the environment key features of his campaign, weaving substantive policies on these topics into platforms on everything from food and agriculture to jobs creation. He calls global warming "his highest environmental priority," and was the first candidate to call for an 80% reduction in carbon dioxide pollution below 1990 levels by 2050 a goal endorsed by many climate scientists and environmental groups.
He has earned the endorsement of Friends of the Earth Action, the political arm of Friends of the Earth. As the running mate of Sen. John Kerry in 2004, the ticket received the endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters. His energy plan also received praise from LCV for being early and substantive.
Between 1999 and 2004, his scores on the LCV Scorecard, which rates politicians on a scale of 0 to 100 based on their votes on environmental issues on which LCV has taken a position, was 59. His score each session ranged from 17 to 100.
The 2008 Edwards campaign has taken $29,398 from the oil and gas industry, ranking him 10th of 15 candidates and fifth of seven Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
John Edwards's Energy and Environmental Platform at a Glance
John Edwards has detailed policies on his Website. These points are derived from his Website, as well as public statements.
- Cut carbon dioxide emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Employ a cap-and-trade system whereby companies would have to restrict pollution to within a national cap, and those that pollute less could sell credits to those who pollute more. Auction some credits.
- Enlist farmers to sell $8 billion worth of carbon credits, by employing no-till soil sequestration, reforestation, methane capture from manure, residue mulching, buffer zones, and cover crops.
- Work with the U.N. on a new international framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions that includes China, India and other developing nations. Share clean energy technology with developing nations in exchange for binding greenhouse gas limits.
- Start $13 billion annual New Energy Economy Fund, with revenue from carbon credit auction and the elimination of oil subsidies. Fund would "support U.S. research and development in energy technology, help entrepreneurs start new businesses, invest in new carbon-capture and efficient automobile technology and help Americans conserve energy" including $1 billion a year for clean coal research and $1 billion to develop a range of new efficient automotive technologies.
- Create 1 million jobs 150,000 per year as part of a "green collar job" initiative that will include training in new energy technology.
- Enact a renewable energy portfolio requiring utilities to produce 25% of energy from renewable sources like wind, solar and hydro power by 2025.
- Require that all new coal-fired power plants be built so they can capture and store carbon dioxide emissions.
- Double the Department of Energy's renewable energy budget.
- Enact a $5,000 tax credit for homes and small businesses that invest in onsite generation of renewable energy like solar, wind, and geothermal power. Encourage local utilities to buy back excess power produced by such systems via "net metering." Require utilities to consider investing in such "distributed" sources of energy, rather than new power plants.
- Encourage states to change the way energy companies earn profits, so that reducing energy demand has as much economic value as supplying increased demand.
- Increase weatherization program for homeowners who want to make energy efficiency improvement to $500 million a year.
- Call on states to set new strict energy efficiency provisions in building codes, encourage LEED and Energy Star building certifications.
- Raise federal efficiency standards for appliances and encourage sales of Energy Star products.
- Reduce federal energy use 20% and increase the purchase of energy derived from renewable sources. Make White House carbon neutral by improving efficiency and purchasing carbon offsets.
- Oppose subsidies for nuclear power and liquid coal fuel.
- Enact a ban on energy exploration or other development of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
- Set goal of meeting 1.5% annual increased energy demand over 10 years with efficiency rather than increased production.
- Set goal of reducing oil imports by 7.5 million barrels a day (nearly one third of projected oil demand) by 2025.
- Set goal of producing 65 billion gallons of ethanol by 2025.
FOOD AND FARMS
- Require all new cars sold after 2010 to be "flex fuel" vehicles that can run on E85, a blend of 85% gasoline and 15% ethanol.
- Increase fuel economy standards to 40 miles per gallon by 2016.
- Require federal agencies to purchase efficient vehicles.
- Require oil companies to install ethanol pumps at 25% of gas stations by an unspecified date.
- Enforce mandatory country-of-origin labeling.
- Integrate food safety rules and enforcement in a single agency and law, rather than having 15 agencies apply different aspects of 35 laws.
- Increase spending for inspection, and give federal agencies the power to mandate recalls.
- Require certification of foreign food inspection systems for all foods, rather than just for meat, poultry and egg products.
- Put moratoriums on the construction and expansion of hog farm lagoons, and on consolidated animal feeding lots.
- Increase spending on basic research at the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health.
- Refuse to consider political affiliation as a "litmus test" for hiring government scientists, and prohibit political appointees from overriding agencies' scientific findings.
- Restore White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to a role as an assistant to the president.
- Invest in unspecified ways in teacher pay and training, particularly in math and science.
- Enact new unspecified incentives to encourage so-called "smart growth" transit-oriented developments that discourage suburban sprawl by building in existing cities and town centers, where there is less need to drive a car because home, work, recreation and school are nearby.
- Create a GreenCorps within AmeriCorps to do encourage volunteers to undertake efficiency and environmental projects to earn forgiveness of college loans.
- Make permanent the Research and Experimentation tax credit that businesses use to invest in research and development.
- Reverse many Bush Administration executive orders and regulations related to the environment.
- Renew industry tax that had paid for toxic waste site cleanups when the polluter can not be identified or cannot afford the cleanup.
- Include environmental standards in international trade agreements.
- Increase funding for national parks and wildlife refuges.
- Update mining laws so companies pay more royalties for mining public lands and do more to restore the land after completing projects.
- Strengthen Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act in unspecified ways.