John Edwards on Environment

2004 Democratic Nominee for Vice President; Former Jr Senator (NC)

Opposed to Yucca Mountain and new nuclear power plants

I’m opposed to Yucca Mountain. I will end it for all the reasons that have already been discussed, because of the science that’s been discovered, because apparently some forgery of documents that’s also been discovered--all of which has happened in recent years. I’ve heard Obama say he’s open to the possibility of additional nuclear power plants. Clinton said at a debate earlier, standing beside me, that she was agnostic on the subject. I am not for it or agnostic. I am against building more nuclear power plants, because I do not think we have a safe way to dispose of the waste. They’re dangerous, they’re great terrorist targets and they’re extraordinarily expensive. They are not, in my judgment, the way to green this--to get us off our dependence on oil. The science that has been revealed since that time and the forged documents that have been revealed since that time have made it very--this has been for years.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Las Vegas Jan 15, 2008

Need a moratorium on any more coal-fired power plants

If you were to double the number of nuclear power plants on the planet tomorrow, it would deal with about one-seventh of the greenhouse gas problem. This is not the answer. It goes beyond wind & solar. We ought to be investing in cellulose-based biofuels We have to be able to take those people on if we’re going to actually change our policy. What we need in my judgment is we need a cap on carbon emissions. That cap needs to come down every year. We need an 80% reduction in our carbon emissions by the yea 2050. Below the cap, we ought to make the polluters pay. That money ought to be invested in all these clean renewable sources of energy: wind, solar, cellulose-based biofuels. We need a moratorium on the building of any more coal-fired power plants unles and until we have the ability to capture and sequester the carbon in the ground. Every time we build a new coal-fired power plant in America when we don’t have that technology attached to it, we’re making a terrible situation worse.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Las Vegas Jan 15, 2008

Deal with energy independence in a serious way

children and grandchildren. We have a responsibility to future generations, an enormous responsibility. 20 generations came before us. Our parents, our grandparents, and did everything they could do to leave the US better than they found it, and to make certain that their children had a better life than they’ve had. Our moral responsibility is to rise up as a nation with the right kind of president and the right kind of leadership and go after these huge moral responsibility we’re faced with.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic Debate Dec 13, 2007

Pay New Orleans residents to rebuild from Katrina

Q: Would you support a federal law guaranteeing the right to return to New Orleans and other Gulf regions devastated by Hurricane Katrina?


CLINTON: I have proposed a 10-point Gulf Coast Recovery Agenda, because even if we were to give people a right, there is nothing to return to.

BIDEN: It’s an American problem. We should guarantee the reconstruction.

RICHARDSON: Yes, I would support that. I would also support the Katrina Recovery Act.

EDWARDS: This is an issue I care about personally and deeply. As president, I would make one person responsible for reporting to me every day on what he did in New Orleans yesterday. And what we should do is allow the people of New Orleans to rebuild their own city. We ought to pay them a decent wage, give them health care coverage, instead of having big multinationals corporations get billion-dollar contracts with the government.

Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University Jun 28, 2007

Victims in New Orlean’s Ninth Ward were “shaming of America”

Those pictures that came out of the Ninth Ward of New Orleans after the hurricane hit--the entire world saw them. I saw a headline overseas after the hurricane hit--with pictures of victims in the Ninth Ward--a huge headline: “The Shaming of America.” The world is watching. They want to know whether America, the richest nation on the planet, thinks it’s okay, what we saw in the Ninth Ward. Whether America thinks it’s okay that we have millions of children who are literally worried about survival.
Source: Take Back America 2007 Conference Jun 19, 2007

Investigate & enforce clean air laws against the refineries

We got to do is find out what’s happening with these oil and gas companies, because they’re making record amounts of money. The same people that are refining the oil are selling it at the gas pump. There ought to be an investigation of the oil and gas companies by the Justice Department. If the laws that presently exist don’t deal with this problem in price manipulation, there should be some change in the antitrust laws. We need states to enforce clean air laws against these refineries.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Katrina gave a face to millions in poverty

When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, suddenly the 37 millions of Americans in poverty had a face, thousands of faces. They were on the evening news, packed into the Superdome, hungry and thirsty and desperate, unable to flee. There was nowhere for the poor to go. Americans saw their faces and they--we--responded with support, with resources, and with an awakened will to make a difference.

The task before us is to harness that awakened will to conquer this plague once and for all. The sad truth is that Katrina exposed only the smallest fraction of poverty’s victims. They live across the country in circumstances as varied as they are terrible. Many of them are jobless, but many are working. Many are homeless, but many are packed into failed housing projects far from available work. Many live in inner cities, but many live in forgotten rural communities. Many lack a good education, and many are children who desperately need good schools they do not have.

Source: Ending Poverty in America, by John Edwards, p.256-257 Apr 2, 2007

Protect ANWR, lead in global warming battle

Unlike President Bush, I support strong environmental protection, higher CAFE standards, protection of ANWR, and American leadership in the world’s battle against global warming.
Source: 2004 Presidential National Political Awareness Test Mar 3, 2004

Voted NO on confirming Gale Norton as Secretary of Interior.

Vote to confirm the nomination of Gale Norton as Secretary of Interior. [Ms. Norton generally favors conservative or libertarian stances on the environment.]
Reference: Bill Confirmation vote ; vote number 2001-6 on Jan 30, 2001

Voted NO on more funding for forest roads and fish habitat.

The Bryan Amdt (D-NV) offered an amendment to raise funding levels for Forest Service road maintenance and wildlife and fisheries habitat management programs. Senator Craig (R-ID) motioned to table this amendment. [A YES vote is considered pro-business].
Status: Table Motion Agreed to Y)54; N)43; NV)3
Reference: Motion to table Bryan Amdt. #1588; Bill H.R. 2466 ; vote number 1999-272 on Sep 14, 1999

Rated 37% by the LCV, indicating a mixed record on environment.

Edwards scores 37% by the LCV on environmental issues

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is the political voice of the national environmental movement and the only organization devoted full-time to shaping a pro-environment Congress and White House. We run tough and effective campaigns to defeat anti-environment candidates, and support those leaders who stand up for a clean, healthy future for America. Through our National Environmental Scorecard and Presidential Report Card we hold Congress and the Administration accountable for their actions on the environment. Through regional offices, we build coalitions, promote grassroots power, and train the next generation of environmental leaders. The 2003 National Environmental Scorecard provides objective, factual information about the environmental voting records of all Members of the first session of the 108th Congress. This Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who selected the key votes on which Members of Congress should be graded. LCV scores votes on the most important issues of the year, including environmental health and safety protections, resource conservation, and spending for environmental programs. Scores are calculated by dividing the number of pro-environment votes by the total number of votes scored. The votes included in this Scorecard presented Members of Congress with a real choice on protecting the environment and help distinguish which legislators are working for environmental protection. Except in rare circumstances, the Scorecard excludes consensus action on the environment and issues on which no recorded votes occurred.

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

EPA must do better on mercury clean-up.

Edwards signed a letter from 45 Senators to EPA

To: Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Dear Administrator Leavitt:

We are writing to urge you to take prompt and effective action to clean up mercury pollution from power plants. The EPA’s current proposals on mercury fall far short of what the law requires, and they fail to protect the health of our children and our environment. We ask you to carry out the requirements of the Clean Air Act to protect our nation from toxic mercury contamination.

On January 30, 2004, EPA proposed two alternative rules to address mercury emissions. Unfortunately, both of these proposals fail to meet the Clean Air Act directives for cleaning up mercury. EPA's proposals permit far more mercury pollution, and for years longer, than the Clean Air Act allows.

The toxicity of mercury has been proven time and again by scientists around the world. The Agency's own scientists just released a study finding that approximately 630,000 infants were born in the US in the 12-month period, 1999-2000, with blood mercury levels higher than what is considered safe. This is a doubling of previous estimates.

The newest scientific studies show that controlling mercury emissions works. As we saw in Florida, sharp reductions in mercury pollution are mirrored by reductions in nearby fish populations. A study in northern Wisconsin indicated that reductions in the input of mercury from air corresponded with marked reductions in mercury fish tissue levels in the 1990s.

As the Administrator of the EPA, you have the legal authority and the responsibility to address mercury emissions and protect public health. We do not believe that EPA's current proposals are sufficient or defensible. We urge you to withdraw the entire proposed rule package and re-propose a rule for adequate public comment that meets the terms of the 1998 settlement agreement and is promulgated by the December 15, 2004 deadline.

Source: Letter from 45 Senators to EPA 04-SEN1 on Apr 1, 2004

Other candidates on Environment: John Edwards on other issues:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010