Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Obama vs. Clinton Energy Policy

As tight as the democratic race is between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, I thought it would be interesting to delineate the differences and many similarities between their respective energy policies.

Cap & Trade for GHG: Both Hillary and Obama support a cap & trade system to cut U.S. emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. They both propose to auction off 100% of emissions credits. On Hillary's website she claims that "a new cap-and-trade program that auctions 100 percent of permits alongside investments to move us on the path towards energy independence." Obama's claims are more clear on his website as they explain how a "100 percent auction ensures that all polluters pay for every ton of emissions they release, rather than giving these emission rights away to coal and oil companies. Some of the revenue generated by auctioning allowances will be used to support the development of clean energy, to invest in energy efficiency improvements, and to address transition costs, including helping American workers affected by this economic transition."

Fuel Economy Standards: Clinton supports raising fuel economy standards to 40 mpg by 2020 and 55 mpg by 2030 by "help[ing] automakers retool their production facilities through $20 billion in "Green Vehicle Bonds." Similarly, Obama Supports raising fuel economy standards for cars to 40 mpg and light trucks to 32 mpg by 2020.

Renewable Energy: Clinton proposes a "$50 billion Strategic Energy Fund, paid for in part by oil companies, to fund investments in alternative energy." Additionally, both Clinton and Obama propose that 25% of the U.S. electricity consumption by 2025 should come from "renewable sources". This is one area which I found very interesting, as both candidates seem to define "renewable" in different ways. On Clinton's website, it is unclear if the 25% renewables includes biofuels as a source of renewable energy. Obama's website is more clear and states that "Obama will establish a 25 percent federal Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to require that 25 percent of electricity consumed in the U.S. is derived from clean, sustainable energy sources, like solar, wind and geothermal by 2025."

Biofuels: Both candidates push for the U.S. to reach 60 billion biofuel gallons per year production by 2030.

Coal: Both candidates support "clean coal" (meaning low carbon emitting) and coal-to-liquid fuels only if they produce 20% less emissions than conventional fuels. Additionally, Obama has stated that he will utilize "whatever tools are necessary to stop new dirty coal plants from being built in America -- including a ban on new traditional coal facilities."

Nuclear: Both Clinton and Obama agree that nuclear is not the best clean energy route to pursue in the upcoming future because waste storage and other problems are still yet to be solved. In his "Plan to Make America a Global Energy Leader" Obama states that "there is no future for expanded nuclear
Without first addressing four key issues: public right-to-know, security of nuclear fuel and waste, waste storage, and proliferation."

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