Senator Barack Obama and Gov. Mike Huckabee have emerged as the victors of the first influential caucus in Iowa. So, what would it mean for the environment if both were to be propelled to their party's nomination by this momentum?
Obama's energy policy plans are characterized by the detail of an academic scholar. Huckabee, meanwhile, has repeatedly said that the government ought to protect God's creation and live by the Boy Scout code: "Leave the campsite in better shape than you found it."
First, no matter who wins the nomination, it seems likely that the issue of global warming and energy policy might become higher-tier issues once the field is narrowed. Why? Right now, Obama sounds, like his fellow Democrats, similarly aggressive on the issue (though there are differences). He wants to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 and spend $150 billion over 10 years on research and development of renewable energy technologies.
Republicans, meanwhile, are nearly unanimous in being vague on energy and global warming policies. In other words, the differences are largely between parties, not candidates within each party.
That said, Huckabee is perhaps the closest disciple of Sen. John McCain, the lone Republican vying for the nomination who has made combating global warming a key campaign issue. Huckabee is the only other candidate to endorse a cap-and-trade regulation to staunch the flow of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
So if Obama and Huckabee were to face off in a general election, you can bet Huckabee would be pressured to flesh out his plans, and Obama would be pressured to explain how he could pay for his plan, and get it through Congress.
An interesting debate could center around a private-sector stimulus plan that Obama has advanced. It's a strategy that might appeal to Republicans who oppose heavy government regulation inherent in subsidies or cap-and-trade pollution schemes. Obama has called for the creation of an independent, private Clean Technologies Deployment Venture Capital Fund, which would start with $10 billion in government money before going independent. Ultimately, it would partner with existing investment funds and national laboratories to finance new energy technologies.
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