Iowa: Smart Energy Policy or Ethanol?

Janne K. Flisrand:

Five days to the Iowa caucuses, and while I live north of the border, I'm still in ethanol central and my caucus comes February 5th. It's time to do my review of candidate global warming positions.

I admit I've tended politically left since I spent a year living in Norway where, "Even the most conservative of our seven major parties is more liberal than American Democrats!" Thinking of readers here, though, I wanted to see how both major parties are talking about impending climate chaos.

I found a couple of places that compare all the candidate positions. Grist has an accessible set of charts, interviews, and summaries. Popular Mechanics uses quotes from candidates' websites.

So, a short summary of positions.

All of the Democratic candidates have serious, detailed climate/energy policies. Some got there earlier (Edwards), some are more aggressive (Dodd), some set more detailed targets (Richardson), one is somewhat lacking (Biden), but the plans are on the right track with limited pandering to the ethanol audience -- and even then, "cellulosic" keeps coming up, as it should.

The Republicans, on the other hand, don't seem to acknowledge there is an issue, except for McCain -- and his Climate Stewardship Act of 2003 is nowhere near as aggressive as even the weakest of the Democratic plans.

The Republicans certainly aren't greenwashing - that's hard to do when they don't mention green to begin with. (I am amazed at the disconnect between my world and the Republicans' world, but political polarization isn't news.) The Democratic candidates seem to have signed on to a soundly written treaty agreeing on strategies and targets.

But, until one of them is elected, how to know whether the platform is a priority to be implemented, or simply pandering to me and my peers?

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Thanks for the deeper look. I have to admit that until recently I couldn't bring myself to even listen to most of the growing buzzing noise.

Last night I actually read through the relevant sections of some of the more noticed hopefuls. I was actually quite impressed at the depth of the policy statements of the most mentioned of the democratic personalities. My interest was in their energy policies and I doubt we would have seen nearly the detail present now even four years ago. My impressions of them changed a bit after studying the websites of Clinton, Edwards and Obama.

It is really too bad (although maybe planned) that decisions get made on sound bytes and scripted debates rather than careful analysis of detailed positions.

Then I checked out those same details on a few of the Republican hopeful websites. Ah... have a look and decide for yourself.

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