Prioritize green energy
- Strongly Support means you believe: Overuse of fossil fuels causes serious problems that we should deal with immediately by raising carbon taxes, raising CAFE standards, federally funding research into alternative and sustainable energy resources, and push to imlpement the Kyoto Protocol.
- Support means you believe: We should establish a market-based solution for excess carbon emissions, and the problem will be solved. The Kyoto Protocol should require developing countries' participation to make the solution work.
- Oppose means you believe: The cost of dealing with global warming is far higher than the potential damage, so we should do nothing. There's some evidence for global warming, but the effects are not certain. We should perhaps sign on to some international agreements, but make only minimal financial commitments for now.
- Strongly Oppose means you believe: There's no such thing as global warming - it's all natural climatic variation.
And if there is a problem, it won't affect us much, and we can deal with the problems as they arise.
This question is looking for your views on the use of carbon-based energy sources in general. However you answer the above question would be similar to your response to these statements:
How do you decide between "Support" and "Strongly Support" when you agree with both the descriptions above? (Or between "Oppose" and "Strongly Oppose").
The strong positions are generally based on matters of PRINCIPLES where the regular support and oppose positions are based on PRACTICAL matters.
If you answer "No Opinion," this question is not counted in the VoteMatch answers for any candidate.
If you give a general answer of Support vs. Oppose, VoteMatch can more accurately match a candidate with your stand.
Don't worry so much about getting the strength of your answer exactly refined, or to think too hard about the exact wording of the question -- like candidates!
- Spend Resources to Stop Global Warming
- Institute a Carbon Tax or increase the gasoline tax.
- Climate change is a serious problem that should be dealt with now.
- Implement the Kyoto Protocol and the Greenhouse Gas treaty.
- Generally those who answer positively to those questions will also answer positively on these environmental statements:
- Spend resources on pollution control and on achieving clean air and clean water.
- Support and expand the Endangered Species Act.
- We do not include nuclear energy in the question text because it muddies the water in the discussion about reducing carbon-based energy sources. Some who supoprt the Kyoto Protocol favor nuclear energy, and others claim the problems of its waste products outweight its global warming benefits.
- Strongly Support means you believe in the principle that the earth has limited resources.
- Support means you believe in practical reasons for reduction in carbon usage, such as US technological competitiveness or reducing the risks of global warming.
- Oppose means you believe that practical cost considerations preclude taking action now.
- Strongly Oppose means you believe that the principle of global warming is false, or an exaggerated scare-mongering tactic.
- The 2012 election debates how to decrease imported energy -- with Democrats focusing on alternative energy and Republicans focusing on increased domestic production of fossil fuels.
- Cap-and-Trade: refers to a carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions policy where the amount of CO2 is "capped" at a government-specified emission amount, and then the right to emit CO2 is "traded" via emission permits. The result would be instituting a new fee for emitting carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. A similar program was used successfully to battle acid rain via sulfur dioxide emission permits trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
refers to carbon dioxide, the single largest greenhouse gas, but there are numerous other greenhouse gases too. Because CO2 has become so politicized, especially opposition to "Cap-and-Trade" and the Kyoto Protocol, many environmentalists have begun focusing on reducing other greenhouse gases, such as methane, as more politically achievable.
- OCS: refers to drilling for oil off the Outer Continental Shelf, several miles offshore. States control oil drilling in waters up to three miles offshore; the federal government controls waters from that distance until the continental shelf ends and the deep ocean begins (a maximum of about 350 miles offshore). Conservatives favor OCS drilling to reach more potential oil reserves; liberals cite the greater technical challenges and the higher risk of oil spills.
- Carbon sequestration: refers to removing CO2 (carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere and keeping it "sequestered," or captured and stored, in a way that the CO2 cannot return to the atmosphere. Nature performs the simplest form of carbon sequestration: growing trees, which convert CO2 into wood. Human methods include chemical processes; burying CO2 underground; or mineralization (converting to carbonate rocks).
- Clean coal: refers to implementing methods for carbon capture and storage at coal-burning plants. Sequestering CO2 from coal plants involves filtering smokestack emissions (called "CO2 scrubbing"); capturing CO2 gas; and chemical conversion into stable solids. As of 2012, some smokestack experiments successfully demonstrate the techniques, but none are yet in commercial use.
- Domestic production advocate often cite "The Marcellus Shale", a natural-gas-rich formation under New York and the Appalachians -- it requires separating the gas from rock and methane.
- Other shale-gas deposits are currently estimated to total 827 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, an equivalent to all of Saudi Arabia's oil. Members of both parties -- including Pres. Obama -- cite the potential of shale gas.
- Separating the natural gas requires "fracking", which uses large quantities of toxins, sand, and water; dealing with millions of gallons of toxic wastewater is the biggest side-effect.
- Solyndra: The Obama administration gave the solar panel company Solyndra a $500 million in federal loan guarantees; that company ended up bankrupt, hence costing the taxpayers $500M. In 2011, the GOP presidential primary contenders cited this issue often.
- “Fracking” is short for “hydraulic fracturing,” a process used in 90% of natural gas wells. Fracking injects fluid underground at high pressure to fracture rock and release oil or gas trapped inside the formation. The champions of natural gas promote it as a clean energy alternative, but opponents note that fracking fluid is laced with toxic chemicals that have not been fully tested or disclosed to the public. New research (June 2012) indicates that fracking has a low risk of triggering earthquakes,
- Mitt Romney pushes for opening new nuclear plants, as a carbon-free alternative to energy needs. At issue is the ability (or inability) of the NRC, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to open new nuclear plants. The last new nuclear plant to come on-line in the US was in 1996, due to both political and economic issues. Pres. Obama promoted new nuclear plants during as part of a comprehensive energy plan; the NRC accordingly approved a new nuclear plant design in Dec. 2011, the first in decades
- $4 gas: Gasoline spiked to record high levels over $4 per gallon in the summer of 2008, forcing energy issues to the forefront of the election.
- Gas Tax Holiday: Politicians focused on the short-term economic pain caused by high gas prices, and called for a temporary suspension of the federal gas tax to drive down prices.
Sen. John McCain and Sen. Hillary Clinton both called for a summer gas tax holiday, but Sen. Barack Obama called that a short-term "gimmick".
High gas prices have stimulated high interest in fuel-efficient vehicles and have made hybrid vehicles cost-effective, while also stimulating record levels of ridership on mass transit systems.
- Offshore Drilling: Congress banned new offshore drilling in 1981, but in Aug. 2008 Pres. Bush called for a restart of drilling.
It is still pending Congressional action, but has become central to the political debate on energy.
Democrats argue that million of acres offshore are available but undrilled (true, but the oil companies would prefer the more likely new areas).
Republicans argue that high gas prices mean we need to "Drill here & drill now" (irrelevant, since offshore drilling takes years before the first delivery).
- Drill, baby, drill: The mantra of the 2008 Republican National Convention is a political statement more than an economic statement, because of the long lag time between drilling and its effect on actual oil prices.
The mantra, most associated with Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, implies that one supports domestic oil & gas production, over developing alternative energy supplies, and especially over continuing to import foreign oil.
- Energy Independence: Both liberals and conservatives favor the US becoming less dependent on foreign oil supplies.
The key difference is in what would replace those foreign oil supplies.
Conservatives focus on replacing them with domestic oil supplies, while liberals focus on replacing them with non-fossil fuels.
- Nuclear energy: Sen. John McCain has pushed for opening several dozen new nuclear plants, as a carbon-free alternative to energy needs.
The last new nuclear plant to come on-line in the US was in 1996, due to both political and economic issues.
- Yucca Mountain: Since the 1980s, the federal government has been "studying" Yucca Mountain in Nevada as a permanent repository for nuclear waste.
Yucca Mountain, about 80 miles from the Las Vegas, is called the "deep geological repository storage facility" because the radioactive waste would be buried deep in a mountain for the thousands of years that it remains dangerous.
Delays have plagued the opening of Yucca Mountain because of its political controversy.
The latest issue is how nuclear waste would be transported to Yucca Mountain, since it would travel by truck through other states in secret.
Congress canceled the program under President Obama in April 2011.
- Cellulosic Ethanol: Ethanol as a fuel source has been increasing, primarily due to political pressure from farming states (ethanol is made from corn crops).
Quantities of ethanol production for fuel have been high enough to drive food prices higher, so now the political pressure is to switch to non-food-based ethanol.
Hence "cellulosic ethanol" replaces corn-based ethanol with ethanol from non-edible sources such as woodchips, switchgrass, and cornstalks.
Environmentalists point out that the production of corn-based ethanol requires almost as much energy as the fuel that results from the production -- hence they view corn-based ethanol as having mixed value for global warming.
"Biofuels" is the more general term for using biological sources to make ethanol for fuel; it includes both cellulosic ethanol and corn-based ethanol.
- Strategic Petroleum Reserve: (SPR): Since the 1970s gas crises, the federal governmnet has been stockpiling oil in four underground caverns in Texas & Louisiana.
The supply as of July 2008 is 700 million barrels, or about 33 days of the total US consumption.
In July 2008, Congress suspended filling the SPR, to put downward pressure on gas prices.
Congress could order sales from the SPR, for further downward price pressure -- the last SPR sale was in 2005 in response to Hurricane Katrina.
- Oil Refineries: Many politicians call for allowing new oil refineries to be built in the US.
No new oil refineries have been built in the US since 1976 (though many have been expanded).
The difficulties and cost are primarily for compliance with EPA regulations; hence calling for new oil refineries implies relaxing EPA regulations.
- ANWR: The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a protected area in northern Alaska that contains substantial supplies of oil and gas.
Conservatives favor drilling ANWR to extract the oil, while liberals favor maintaining its protected status.
- Deregulation Crisis: California suffered ‘rolling blackouts’ in 2001 due to insufficient energy supplies.
California had partially deregulated its energy industry, by freeing retail prices, but maintaining controls on wholesale prices.
Conservatives favor full deregulation and/or building more energy supply as a solution; liberals favor conservation and better regulation of energy delivery systems.
- Energy Conservation: Americans are by far the least energy-efficient people in the industrialized world, primarily due to the heavy reliance on personal automobiles.
Liberals favor ongoing efforts toward conservation, via more efficient automobiles and appliances, as well as voluntary usage restrictions; the goal is to avoid the need for additional energy imports or oil drilling.
- Alternative Energy: The federal government regularly funds research into solar power, wind power, wave power, biomass power, and other alternative energy sources, but none are competitively priced with gas and oil at the present time.
Liberals contend that gas and oil prices are kept artificially low by federal intervention (including military action in the Mideast), which results in policy prescriptions like President Clinton’s proposed ‘BTU Tax’ in the early 1990s, intended to foster alternative energy development.
- CAFE standard: The ‘Corporate Average Fuel Economy’ requires that all automobile manufacturers maintain an average of 28 miles per gallon (mpg) for all vehicles sold.
- Greenhouse gases: Atmospheric gases which keep heat in, like greenhouse glass does. The most common greenhouse gas (GHG) is carbon dioxide (CO2), which comes from burning gasoline, wood, oil, etc. The evidence of rising CO2 levels is undisputed; the political dispute centers on how much of the rise is attributable to human activities versus how much is natural climatic fluctuation.
- Global Warming: Increase in worldwide temperature due to excess emissions of greenhouse gases. A few degrees rise in temperature, in theory, would cause rising sea levels, more extreme weather, and climate change around the world. The evidence of rising temperatures is undisputed; the political dispute centers on and whether it will change the climate and whether we can or should do something about it.
- Climate Change Treaty: The basic international treaty on reducing greenhouse gas emissions was signed by the US and 182 other countries in 1992. It set up a ‘framework’ for later ‘protocols.’ Also known as the Rio Treaty or Greenhouse Gas Treaty.
- Kyoto Protocol: The follow-up to the Climate Change Treaty which sets GHG reduction targets for the US and other developed countries. Completed in 1998, the US has not yet signed (Argentina is the largest economy to have signed). This is politically controversial because it would require the US to cut CO2 emissions, which is potentially costly.
- Effects on the US: A Congressional national assessment on climate change, published in June 2000, predicts:
- An average temperature rise of 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit, with gentler winters and more summer heat waves.
- More agricultural production and forest growth due to carbon dioxide fertilization; but loss of coastal wetlands and Alpine meadows.
- More winter rain, with a 10% increase in overall precipitation, but a 60% increase in the Southwest.
- More extreme storms and more pollution runoff due to rainstorms.
- More drought in the Midwest, especially in Kansas and Colorado; and a 5-foot drop in Great Lakes water levels.