Just days after Al Gore endorsed Sen. Barack Obama's presidency, another major force in the world of the environment has thrown its weight behind the Democrat.
The Sierra Club, which calls itself America's largest grassroots environmental organization, has endorsed Barack Obama. (It also endorsed Obama in the Democratic primaries.)
In an election when his rival, Sen. John McCain, has sought to distinguish his credentials on fighting global warming as a defining feature of his campaign, Obama's detailed energy agenda seems to have won over the group. While both candidates endorse a cap-and-trade system for reducing heat-trapping carbon emissions, McCain's goal falls short of the benchmark set by United Nations scientists for staving off the worst consequences of global warming. (Incidentally, even those targets are increasingly seen as weak, given the rapidity of climate-induced changes occurring around the world, and the increase in carbon pollution.)
Here are the facets of Obama's agenda the Sierra Club highlighted:
The central "cap and auction" system that would cut our carbon dioxide emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 requires polluters to pay for their emissions and invests money into clean energy technology and jobs, and aid for low-income Americans affected by higher energy costs.
A requirement that 25% of U.S. electricity come from renewable sources by 2025, along with a plan for improving energy efficiency in the U.S. 50 percent by 2030.
Retention of bans on oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and off-shore oil and gas exploration.
Opposition to the storage of nuclear waste at the Yucca Mountain repository being built in southern Nevada.
Restoration of environmental programs undercut by Bush Administration executive orders.
Increased regulation of factory farms.
Support of the Lead Poisoning Reduction Act, which aims to protect children from toxic lead poisoning.
"We believe Senator Obama is the change our nation needs - he is the change we need, the leader who will put America on the path to a clean energy economy that will create and keep millions of jobs, spur innovation and opportunity, make us a more secure nation, and help us solve global warming," said Carl Pope, president of the Sierra Club.
Interestingly, the Sierra Club endorsement came alongside that of the United Steelworkers, which sees the promise of new jobs in Obama's clean energy agenda.
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