The Candidates on the Environment

Despite the current economic meltdown, I have chosen to stick with environmental policies for this blog post. There is plenty of information out there on the candidates and what they would do about the economic situation, but that information is changing on a daily basis with both candidates coming up with new ideas and offering new proposals. I’m going to let it ride for a while, and gather information when the dust has settled. 

The environment and energy are inextricably linked, but I fear if I try to cover both at the same time this blog post will be too long to read in one sitting, and that would defeat the purpose. So, this one is about the environment (although I did look into what each candidate thinks about drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)). 

Energy is up next. 

My sources this week come predominately from:
– The League of Conservation Voters, “2008 On the Record,”
– On The Issues,


Supports tougher regulations on emissions. 

“Q: Schwarzenegger has proposed that California be allowed to implement much tougher emission requirements than apply to the rest of the country. Do you side with the governor or with the Bush administration?”

“A: I have to agree with the governor. I’m a federalist. The states should decide to enormous degrees what happens within those states, including off their coasts. The people of California have decided they don’t want oil drilling off their coasts. The people of Louisiana have decided that they do. I applaud the governor’s efforts and that of other states in this region and other states to try to eliminate the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change. Suppose that the governor and I are wrong, and there’s no such thing as climate change. We adopt these green technologies, of which the US and the innovative skills we have and the entrepreneurship and the free market cap-and-trade proposal is enacted. Then all we’ve done is giving our kids a cleaner world.” Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley Jan 30, 2008

McCain also supports a general increase in fuel efficiency and energy efficiency, but has not proposed any specific targets. Source: League of Conservation Voters scorecard.

However, although he supports an increase in fuel efficiency, he has not voted to repeal oil subsidies. (See League of Conservation Voters “Campaign 2008 Fact-Check” below).

Supports the protection of Wilderness areas, including ANWR. 

“McCain wrote in the Arizona Republic on Nov. 27 1996, ‘a deep skepticism exists in the electorate about the party’s commitment to protecting the environment. Have Republicans abandoned their roots as the party of Theodore Roosevelt, who maintained that government’s most important task, with the exception of national security, is to leave posterity a land in better condition than they receive it? The answer must be No.’

[McCain described a past bipartisan effort with Mo Udall]: ‘We were able to place more than 3.5 billion acres of land into wilderness protection, increase the preservation of public lands and tackle complex environmental threats to the Grand Canyon.’ McCain was obviously making a political statement with the new—and increasingly tough—stand he was taking on the environment.” Source: Man of the People, by Paul Alexander, p.181 Jan 19, 2004

McCain opposes drilling in ANWR: “I don’t know how you take advantage of it in an ecological manner, and that’s one of the reasons why I have opposed it. But as I say, I will look at all policies that I have in light of this changed economic environment and the challenge to the United States of America. And I will go back and look at it again, and I’ve looked at it many times, and I will be more than happy to examine it again. But right now, and for that matter for a long period of time, [opposing drilling in ANWR] is my position.” Source: New York Times,

League of Conservation Voters Campaign 2008 Fact-Check:

McCain was absent when the Senate voted to table an amendment that would have allowed conventional and polluting sources of energy, such as coal-fired power plants and nuclear power, to qualify for credits under the national renewable electricity standard. YES is the pro-environment vote. [Roll Call #211, H. R. 6, 6/14/07]

McCain was absent when the Senate failed to override the filibuster against the renewable electricity standard and again when the Senate failed by one vote to repeal billions of dollars in subsidies to big oil in order to fund clean energy. YES is the pro-environment vote. [Roll Call #416, H.R. 6, 12/7/07 and Roll Call #425, H.R. 6, 12/13/07]


McCain voted no on an amendment that would require electric utilities to produce 10% of their electricity from clean, renewable sources by 2020. YES is the pro-environment vote. [Roll Call #141, H.R. 6, 6/16/05]


McCain voted yes on an amendment that would replace a 10% renewable energy standard with a provision for utilities to offer electricity from renewable sources only to the extent available. NO is the pro-environment vote. [Roll Call #55, S. 517, 3/21/02]

McCain voted no on an amendment to raise the renewable energy standard from 10% to 20%, a level that the Department of Energy believes is both affordable and feasible. YES is the pro-environment vote. [Roll Call #50, S. 517, 3/14/02]


McCain voted yes to block an amendment that would add $62 million to the Energy Department’s solar and renewable energy programs. NO is the pro-environment vote. [Energy and Water appropriations, 6/16/99]


McCain voted yes on a motion to table an amendment that would have added $33 million to renewable programs and decreased spending for nuclear weapons. NO is the pro-environment vote. [H.R. 4506, 6/30/94]


Emissions: Opposes protecting salmon if it undermines the mining industry, and supports mining, oil, and gas development. 

“This month, Ms. Palin issued a last-minute statement of opposition to a ballot measure that would have provided added protections for salmon from potential contamination from mining, an action seen as crucial to its defeat.” Source: New York Times, pp. A1 & A10, “An Outsider Who Charms” Aug 29, 2008

“Industry knows we want responsible development. Anadarko will drill Alaska’s first-ever gas-targeted wells on the North Slope. Chevron, FEX, Renaissance–many others are exploring. That’s ratification of AGIA’s promise to make investments profitable for industrious explorers. There’s more we can do to ramp up development. Our new reservoir study can increase development and we will ensure better, publicly supported project coordination. To cultivate timber and agriculture, we’re encouraging responsible, economic efforts to revitalize our once-robust industries. We can and must continue to develop our economy, because we cannot and must not rely so heavily on federal government earmarks.”
Source: State of the State Address to the 25th Alaska Legislature Jan 15, 2008

“The standard should be no different for industry. Ironically, we’re trying to convince the rest of the nation to open ANWR, but we can’t even get our own Pt. Thomson, which is right on the edge of ANWR, developed! We are ready for that gas to be tapped so we can fill a natural gas pipeline. I promise to vigorously defend Alaska’s rights, as resource owners, to develop and receive appropriate value for our resources.”
Source: State of the State Address to the 24th Alaska Legislature Jan 17, 2007

According to a recent TIME magazine article, one of Palin’s priorities is to open ANWR to oil drilling. However, “Drilling would have minimal long-term impact on gas prices: a 2004 study by the Energy Information Agency found that the oil in ANWR might cut the cost of a gallon of gas by all of 3.5 cents by 2027. Even if the drilling were flawless, exploration would destroy much of what makes ANWR special.” Source:,8599,1837868,00.html


Supports higher fuel efficiency standards.

“[For higher fuel efficiency standards] to happen, we’ve got to be courageous enough to not just talk about it in front of the sierra club or organizations already sympathetic to us. When I announced my proposal to increase fuel efficiency standards on cars, I went to Detroit in front of the automakers and said they had to change their ways. I have to say the room was quiet and nobody clapped, but that’s okay. Part of what the next president has to do is not just tell the American people what they want to hear, but what they need to hear.” Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic Debate Dec 13, 2007

“Health Care for Hybrids” Proposal: 

“Here’s the deal we can make with auto companies. It’s a piece of legislation I introduced called Health Care for Hybrids, and it would allow the federal government to pick up part of the tab for the auto companies retiree health care costs. In exchange, the auto companies would then use some of that savings to build and invest more fuel-efficient cars.” Source: “In His Own Words,” edited by Lisa Rogak, p. 39 Mar 27, 2007

“It is shameful that the fuel economy of passenger cars has not increased in over twenty years. While I believe that the Executive Branch has the authority right now to increase fuel economy standards for motor vehicles, I will work to ensure that authority is strengthened so that continual, forward progress is made in fuel economy for both cars and trucks. I will require that fuel economy standards are improved by four percent per year towards the goal of 40 miles per gallon within ten years and 60 miles per gallon within twenty years of implementation.” Source: League of Conservation Voters, ’08: On the Record,

Obama opposes opening ANWR to drilling, but does support increasing oil and gas production in the existing National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (west of ANWR): 

“Gov. Sarah Palin today responded to the energy plan put forward by the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, Illinois Senator Barack Obama. ‘I am pleased to see Senator Obama acknowledge the huge potential Alaska’s natural gas reserves represent in terms of clean energy and sound jobs,’ Governor Palin said.

In a speech given in Lansing, Michigan, Senator Obama called for the completion of the Alaska natural gas pipeline, stating, ‘Over the next five years, we should also lease more of the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska for oil and gas production. And we should also tap more of our substantial natural gas reserves and work with the Canadian government to finally build the Alaska natural gas pipeline, delivering clean natural gas and creating good jobs in the process.’

Gov. Palin said, ‘This is a tool that must be on the table to buy us time until our long-term energy plans can be put into place, and it is gratifying to see Senator Obama get on board.’” Source: Gov. Palin’s press release, “Pleased with Obama’s Plan” Aug 4, 2008

The League of Conservation Voters has endorsed Obama for President:

The League of Conservation Voters has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for President because his plan to stop global warming pollution will break America’s addiction to oil and will create jobs across the country. Moreover, Sen. Obama’s plan is more than words, it is backed by a strong environmental voting record and forward-looking policy proposals for America’s renewable energy future.

In his time in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Obama has been a consistent supporter and co-sponsor of pro-environment legislation, serving as a strong advocate for the environment. In the Illinois Senate, then State Sen. Obama earned a 100 percent “Environmental Voting Record Award” from the Illinois Environmental Council in 2003, which highlights his commitment to the environment at every step of his political career.

Obama has shown strong commitment to renewable energy. From 2005 to 2007, LCV scored 12 key oil-related votes, and Sen. Obama voted pro-environment every single time, making it back to Washington in the midst of the presidential primary campaign last year to cast his vote in favor of renewable energy. Sen. Obama has set a strong goal of getting 25 percent of our electricity from clean energy by 2025.

Obama committed to cutting America’s addiction to oil and creating new green collar jobs. Sen. Obama has proven this commitment to renewable energy by voting to repeal tax credits for Big Oil and to override the filibuster against the renewable electricity standard. Sen. Obama’s plan will help create 5 million new green collar jobs, through investments in renewables, fuel economy and energy efficiency.

Obama’s votes on global warming and his policies show leadership and science-based solutions. Sen. Obama understands the threat of global warming and the urgent need for action. He plans to use the revenue from the emissions allowance auctions to support development of clean energy and to address transition costs, including helping workers adjust. Source: League of Conservation Voters “Obama Fact Sheet,”


Voted yes on including oil & gas smokestacks in mercury regulations (McCain also voted yes on this bill):

“A joint resolution disapproving the rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on March 15, 2005, relating to the removal of coal- and oil-fired electric generating units from the list of major sources of hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. The EPA’s Clean Air Mercury Rule:
– Limits smokestack emissions in a two-phase program founded on a market based capping system
– Calls for the first cap to limit mercury emissions to 38 tons in 2010
– Requires the second and final cap to begin in 2018 and stay fix at 15 tons

Source: EPA’s Clean Air Mercury Rule; Bill S J Res 20 ; vote number 2005-225 on Sep 13, 2005

Supports higher fuel efficiency and energy efficiency standards:

“The federal government should drive markets for efficiency technology and renewable energy. I support requiring the federal government to purchase 10 percent renewable electricity by 2010 and 20 percent by the end of the next decade. I also support significantly increasing federal building energy efficiency by requiring a 30 percent reduction in energy use over the next ten years.It will save taxpayers money – almost $4 billion dollars – and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by millions of tons.” Source: League of Conservation Voters, ’08: On the Record,

Biden opposes drilling in ANWR:

“Senator Biden has been a staunch foe of [drilling in] ANWR. He has consistently voted, during his 34 years in office, against exploration in the 10-02 Area. Despite this he states his number one concern as president would be to solve the energy crisis. Other than being a strong supporter of bio-fuels and advocate to mandate a minimum 40 mpg flex-fuel cars, Biden does not state exactly how he would tackle his number one priority of energy, nor has he ever during his many years voting against the ANWR issue.” Source:,

The League of Conservation Voters gives Biden an 84% lifetime approval rating. Source:


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The Candidates on Abortion


McCain supports the following statements:

1. Abortions should be legal only when the pregnancy resulted from incest, rape, or when the life of the woman is endangered.
2. Prohibit the late-term abortion procedure known as “partial-birth” abortion.
3. Prohibit public funding of abortions and public funding of organizations that advocate or perform abortions.

Source: Project Vote Smart, 1998, Jul 2, 1998

McCain said he thought Roe v. Wade should be overturned and said he would support exceptions to a ban on abortion in cases of rape, incest, and when the mother’s life is in danger.

Source: Boston Globe, p. A11 Jan 22, 2000

McCain does support stem cell research: “I believe that we need to fund this. This is a tough issue for those of us in the pro-life community. I would remind you that these stem cells are either going to be discarded or perpetually frozen. We need to do what we can to relieve human suffering. It’s a tough issue. I support federal funding.”

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC May 3, 2007

McCain voted against funding for sex education and contraceptives: “Voted against adopting an amendment to the Senate’s 2006 Fiscal Year Budget that would allocate $100 million for the prevention of unintended pregnancies. A YES vote would expand access to preventive health care services that reduce unintended pregnancy (including teen pregnancy), reduce the number of abortions, and improve access to women’s health care. A YES vote would:
– Increase funding and access to family planning services
– Funds legislation that requires equitable prescription coverage for contraceptives under health plans
– Funds legislation that would create and expand teen pregnancy prevention programs and education programs concerning emergency contraceptives

Reference: Appropriation to expand access to preventive health care services; Bill S.Amdt. 244 to S Con Res 18 ; vote number 2005-75 on Mar 17, 2005

McCain will try to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that made abortion within the first trimester legal (based on the 9th amendment that the constitution cannot “deny or disparage” a person’s individual rights), and abortion after the third trimester legal in only certain cases (rape, incest, etc.) One of his spokesmen has described his voting record on the issue: “[McCain has a 17-year voting record of supporting efforts to overturn Roe vs. Wade. He does that currently, and will continue to do that as president.” (Source: Ron Fournier, Associated Press Aug 24, 1999.) 


Unlike McCain, Palin opposes stem cell research: According to an October 2006 profile in the Anchorage Daily News, Palin opposes stem cell research, physician-assisted suicide, and state health benefits for same-sex partners.

Source: Boston Globe, “A valentine to evangelical base”, p. A12 Aug 30, 2008

Palin supported the “Safe Haven Bill”, allowing parents to surrender infants without penalty: “Palin signed House Bill 29 into law today. The ‘Safe Haven for Infants Act’ passed the State House in May and passed the Senate on Jan. 19. The bill allows a parent to safely surrender a newborn child without the threat of prosecution, as long as there is no evidence the infant has been physically injured.

Without penalty, a parent may leave the infant in the physical custody of a peace officer, physician or hospital employee, or a volunteer or employee of a fire station or emergency medical service. ‘All children deserve to begin their lives in a loving, protective family,’ Governor Palin said. ‘When that fails, it is our job as a state to make sure that children are protected.’”

Source: Alaska Governor’s Office: Press release 08-020, “Safe Haven” Feb 11, 2008

She believes that the only case in which abortion is acceptable is when the mother’s life is in imminent danger: “I am pro-life. With the exception of a doctor’s determination that the mother’s life would end if the pregnancy continued. I believe that no matter what mistakes we make as a society, we cannot condone ending a life.”

Source: Eagle Forum 2006 Gubernatorial Candidate Questionnaire Jul 31, 2006


Obama supports the state’s right to restrict late-term abortions: “On an issue like partial birth abortion, I strongly believe that the state can properly restrict late-term abortions. I have said so repeatedly. [I’ve also said] we should have a provision to protect the health of the mother, and many of the bills that came before me didn’t have that.” 

Source: Fox News Sunday: 2008 presidential race interview Apr 27, 2008

Obama also voted against banning partial birth abortion outright. “In 1997, Obama voted against SB 230, which would have turned doctors into felons by banning so-called partial-birth abortion, & against a 2000 bill banning state funding. Although these bills included an exception to save the life of the mother, they didn’t include anything about abortions necessary to protect the health of the mother. The legislation defined a fetus as a person, & could have criminalized virtually all abortion.”

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p.147-148 Oct 30, 2007

In his own book, The Audacity of Hope, Obama writes about a meeting pro-life protestors:

“[An abortion protester at a campaign event] handed me a pamphlet. ‘Mr. Obama, I know you’re a Christian, with a family of your own. So how can you support murdering babies?’

I told him I understood his position but had to disagree with it. I explained my belief that few women made the decision to terminate a pregnancy casually; that any pregnant woman felt the full force of the moral issues involved when making that decision; that I feared a ban on abortion would force women to seek unsafe abortions, as they had once done in this country. I suggested that perhaps we could agree on ways to reduce the number of women who felt the need to have abortions in the first place. [Note: Obama has voted to increase funding for sex education programs and distribution of contraception to low-income women – Source: Campaign booklet, “Blueprint for Change”, p. 35-36 Feb 2, 2008].

‘I will pray for you,’ the protester said. ‘I pray that you have a change of heart.’ 

Neither my mind nor my heart changed that day, nor did they in the days to come. But that night, before I went to bed, I said a prayer of my own-that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that had been extended to me.”

Source: The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama, p.197-8 Oct 1, 2006

Obama has supported, and will support, the Roe vs. Wade decision. 


Biden scores 36% by NARAL on pro-choice voting record: “For over thirty years, NARAL Pro-Choice America has been the political arm of the pro-choice movement and a strong advocate of reproductive freedom and choice. NARAL Pro-Choice America’s mission is to protect and preserve the right to choose while promoting policies and programs that improve women’s health and make abortion less necessary. NARAL Pro-Choice America works to educate Americans and officeholders about reproductive rights and health issues and elect pro-choice candidates at all levels of government. The NARAL ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization’s preferred position.” (For instance, Biden opposes partial-birth abortion (and voted to ban it) and agrees with the Catholic Church that life begins at conception. He supports Roe vs. Wade, but believes that there should be no federal funding for abortions).

Source: NARAL website 03n-NARAL on Dec 31, 2003

What is Roe vs. Wade?

Roe v. Wade (January 22, 1973), is the historic Supreme Court decision overturning a Texas interpretation of abortion law and making abortion legal in the United States. The Roe v. Wade decision held that a woman, with her doctor, could choose abortion in earlier months of pregnancy without restriction, and with restrictions in later months, based on the right to privacy.

Effect of the Roe v. Wade decision:
Roe v. Wade invalidated all state laws limiting women’s access to abortions during the first trimester of pregnancy. State laws limiting such access during the second trimester were upheld only when the restrictions were for the purpose of protecting the health of the pregnant woman. Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States, which was not legal at all in many states and was limited by law in others.

Basis of the Roe v. Wade decision:
Roe v. Wade was decided primarily on the Ninth Amendment to the United States Constitution, a part of the Bill of Rights. The Court’s decision in this case was that the Ninth Amendment, in stating that “the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people,” protected a person’s right to privacy.

(adapted from

Note: this is a complicated issue, no? Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, there is no candidate who is clearly one or the other. Obama and Biden are the most pro-choice, but they will probably vote to restrict abortions while also encouraging stem-cell research (which, if you do the research on this one, does not actually encourage abortion as some people think). McCain and Palin are the most pro-life, but they both agree that abortion might be necessary in certain cases (although they disagree on which cases those would be). 

So, there you go. Post #1. I got most of my information from a great website: It is a collection of voting records, interviews, speeches, etc. on very issue you could think of, and it is updated regularly. There is also no analysis or commentary. Only facts. For those of you who say you “just don’t know enough about the issues or the candidates to vote,” please check this website out. It’ll take you ten minutes. Think of an issue that you find important, look at how the candidates have voted, read some quotes from interviews, and viola: informed. 

Then, go register to vote (Wal-Mart even registers new voters), ask for a mail-in ballot so you don’t even have to go anywhere on election day, and VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! 

The next post will be on energy and environmental policy. Stay tuned.

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