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Washington Watch

2008 Democratic Presidential Candidates and the Environment

We'll Feature the Republican Candidate(s) Next Edition

On a slow environmental news day back in October, we took a moment to compare the environmental stances of the 17 presidential candidates running at the time. Since then, 12 of the candidates have dropped out of the race. As a follow up (on another slow environmental news day), we’ve decided to do a more in-depth analysis of the remaining candidates, starting with the Democrats.

Senators Clinton and Obama have similar policy stances on many issues. So much so that it can be difficult for the average voter to differentiate between the two candidates. Thanks to Better World Club, however, you will be able to compare the two candidates’ environmental platforms side-by-side and get a clear idea of which Democratic candidate is the “greenest”.

That was the idea, anyway.

Unfortunately (or, fortunately, depending upon your point of view), the candidates’ environmental plans are similar. Very similar. This makes differentiation difficult; but on the positive side, both plans are light years ahead of anything we’ve seen in the last seven years.

Both Obama and Clinton support increased biofuel production, cap-and-trade systems to reduce pollution, increased automotive fuel efficiency, renewable power requirements of 25% for utilities, and moves towards energy independence. And, they both support investing $150 billion toward a green energy economy. It's almost eerie.

Here's one subtle difference: nuclear power. Hillary appears to be against broader development of nuclear, highlighted by a key stance: her opposition to subsidies for nuclear power. Obama wants more regulation of nuclear, but never says that he opposes subsidies.

For those concerned about our energy future, this difference is critical. One of the often-ignored aspects of business success in America is the amount of government subsidization that a certain industry receives. All of our energy industries are subsidized -- just not equally. Oil has always been favored. And even if you don't want to consider the oil depletion allowance, how about the huge amounts spent by the US military to keep oil supply lines open?

Nuclear is heavily subsidized as well. For one thing, the Price-Anderson Act limits the amount of damages that insurance companies have to pay in the case of a nuclear accident. And that hardly ends it. (For more on Obama and nuclear, click this link to read Obama's (and Clinton's) "Dirty Laundry".)

This is just one example and we are not comprehensively evaluating every word of the candidates' environmental agenda. Better World Club does not endorse candidates.

We believe that all energy technologies should compete on a level playing field, which includes the incorporation of their environmental costs into pricing. It's impressive just how far these two candidates have come to achieving this, but they aren't there yet.

Click here to see the side-by-side comparison of Senators Obama and Clinton