A Politico article asserted that "even the most ambitious [energy] plans presented by the Democratic presidential candidates are setting goals so distant that they won't be met until most of these contenders might be dead." In fact, while Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Sen. John Edwards, and Sen. Barack Obama have called for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, the candidates have also established specific goals to be reached within the next two to 23 years.
In a November 8 Politico article exploring the Republican Party's position on global warming, executive editor Jim VandeHei and editor-in-chief John F. Harris asserted that "it is not clear whether the public is ready to stomach the pocketbook costs of curtailing greenhouse gas emissions," adding: "That is why even the most ambitious plans presented by the Democratic presidential candidates are setting goals so distant that they won't be met until most of these contenders might be dead." However, VandeHei and Harris offered no evidence for their suggestion that Democratic presidential candidates have established "distant" goals because Americans may not be "ready to stomach" the costs of confronting climate change. In fact, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY), former Sen. John Edwards (NC), and Sen. Barack Obama (IL) have specifically addressed the challenges involved in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, all three candidates have set goals related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions within the next 23 years. In fact, the candidates have established some goals to be reached in as few as two to seven years: Clinton's plan calls for "[m]aking all federal buildings designed after January 20, 2009 carbon neutral"; Edwards's plan "will require oil companies to install ethanol pumps at 25 percent of their gas stations and require all new cars sold after 2010 to be 'flex fuel' cars running on either gasoline or biofuel"; and Obama plans to invest "federal resources, including tax incentives, cash prizes and government contracts into developing the most promising technologies with the goal of getting the first two billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol into the system by 2013."
From the November 8 Politico article:
Politics aside, it is not clear whether the public is ready to stomach the pocketbook costs of curtailing greenhouse gas emissions.
People want cleaner air, but are they willing to pay 30 percent more for natural gas to heat their home, or higher energy bills overall? Will they drive smaller cars or pay more to gas up their Durango? Probably not.
That is why even the most ambitious plans presented by the Democratic presidential candidates are setting goals so distant that they won't be met until most of these contenders might be dead.
Inglis says he is studying the proper congressional response -- three years after he was threatened with losing the family vote.
Each of the energy plans proposed by Clinton, Edwards, and Obama calls for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050. However, their plans also set several goals to be reached well before 2050 -- some of which are slated to be completed within the next five years -- and each candidate has acknowledged the challenges inherent in their plans.
In a November 5 speech outlining her energy plan, Clinton stated that addressing climate change "is the biggest challenge we have faced in a generation. It is a challenge to our economy, to our security, to our health, and to our planet. And it's time for America to meet it. It is time to get back into the solutions business. And that is what America does better than anybody else."
Goals in Clinton's energy plan:
- 2009: "Making all federal buildings designed after January 20, 2009 carbon neutral."
- 2015: "Adding 100,000 PHEVs [plug-in hybrid electric vehicles] to the federal fleet by 2015."
- 2020: "An aggressive comprehensive energy efficiency agenda to reduce electricity consumption 20% from projected levels by 2020. ... A fundamental cornerstone of Hillary's plan is reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020."
- 2020-2030: "Hillary would raise fleet-wide fuel economy standards from the current level of 25 miles per gallon (mpg) to 40 mpg in 2020 and 55 mpg in 2030"
- 2022-2030: "To spur increased production of ethanol and other renewable fuels, Hillary would raise the national renewable fuels goal from the current level of 7.5 billion gallons by 2012 to 36 billion gallons per year by 2022 and to 60 billion gallons by 2030."
- 2025-2030: "Aggressive action to transition our economy toward renewable energy sources, with renewables generating 25% of electricity by 2025 and with 60 billion gallons of home-grown biofuels available for cars and trucks by 2030."
- 2030: "Cut foreign oil imports by two-thirds from projected levels by 2030."
During a July 7 discussion on global warming, Edwards asserted that "[i]t's time for the President of the United States to ask Americans to be patriotic about something other than war," and then outlined the changes he would require and the costs they may entail:
EDWARDS: We will need a cap and trade system where polluters pay if they pollute. And big companies are required to change the way they operate.
Oil companies that run gas stations will have to carry alternative fuels at a quarter of their stations, because every new car in America will have to be equipped for alternatives or flex-fuels.
Utilities that today profit by selling more and more polluting energy will have to help customers save electricity, and open up their grids to power produced locally, with rooftop solar panels and local wind turbines.
Automakers that are squeezing profits out of high-polluting SUVs will have to develop the cars of the future with a 40 miles-per-gallon fuel economy standard.
None of this is going happen unless we demand it. The oil companies won't do it. The utilities won't do it. The coal companies won't do it. And as we saw with the energy bill, Washington won't do it. Our generation has to do it -- we cannot wait for somebody else to take responsibility.
Goals in Edwards' energy plan:
- 2010: "Edwards will require oil companies to install ethanol pumps at 25 percent of their gas stations and require all new cars sold after 2010 to be 'flex fuel' cars running on either gasoline or biofuel."
- 2016: "Edwards will raise standards to 40 miles per gallon by 2016, a step that could single-handedly reduce oil demand by 4 million barrels per day."
- 2018: "Edwards called for a national goal of meeting this demand [for electricity] by getting more power out of the electricity we use now, instead of producing more electricity. As a result, electricity use would be 15 [percent] lower by 2018 and renewable energy would have a better opportunity to gain market share."
- 2020: "Edwards will cap greenhouse gases at levels that the latest climate science has determined to be necessary to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. He will reduce greenhouse pollution by 20 percent by 2020."
- 2025: "Edwards will require power companies to generate 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2025" and "reduce oil imports by 7.5 million barrels a day" and "produce 65 billion gallons of ethanol a year by 2025."
In an October 8 speech on clean energy, Obama said: "Make no mistake -- developing the next generation of energy will be one of the greatest challenges that this generation of Americans will ever face. It will not be easy. It will not come without cost or without sacrifice. And if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, they are either fooling themselves or trying to fool you."
Goals in Obama's energy plan:
- 2013: "Obama will invest federal resources, including tax incentives, cash prizes and government contracts into developing the most promising technologies with the goal of getting the first two billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol into the system by 2013."
- 2014: "Obama will implement legislation that phases out traditional incandescent light bulbs by 2014."
- 2020: Obama's plan "requires fuels suppliers to reduce the carbon their fuel emits by ten percent by 2020," and "[a]s president, Obama will ensure that at least 30 percent of the federal government's electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020."
- 2025: "Obama will establish a 25 percent federal Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to require that 25 percent of electricity consumed in the U.S. is derived from clean, sustainable energy sources, like solar, wind and geothermal by 2025. ... Obama will ensure that all new federal buildings are zero-emissions by 2025"
- 2030: "Barack Obama will establish a goal of making all new buildings carbon neutral, or produce zero emissions, by 2030. He'll also establish a national goal of improving new building efficiency by 50 percent and existing building efficiency by 25 percent over the next decade to help us meet the 2030 goal." Obama will also "[r]educe our dependence on foreign oil and reduce oil consumption overall by at least 35 percent, or 10 million barrels of oil, by 2030. ... Obama believes it is imperative that Congress adopt the Senate-passed proposal to increase the RFS [Renewable Fuel Standard] to 36 billion gallons by 2022. As president, Obama will seek to surpass these targets and establish a requirement to produce at least 60 billion gallons of biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol and biodiesel, by 2030."