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As we approach the 2008 presidential primary season, candidates will be pressed to express positions on the environmental, energy and resources topics of concern to the voters. Even though issues such as greenhouse gas emissions, resource extraction in pristine ecosystems, imported toys containing lead, inadequate wastewater treatment, scarce water supplies, location of electric transmission lines, renewable energy portfolios and other issues have appeared frequently in the media, for the candidates environmental issues have not yet taken center stage. Nevertheless, an examination of the candidates’ positions may provide insight into the future direction of environmental policy. An examination of the candidates’ respective Web sites reveals that the two hot environmental topics addressed are greenhouse gas emissions and energy independence. The first issue is mainly advanced by the Democrats, while the second appears to be of more bipartisan interest. Greenhouse Gas Emissions It is not surprising that global warming is a focus of at least some of the presidential candidates. The dire predictions of higher concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases melting ice caps, increasing sea levels and producing more frequent extreme weather events including hurricanes, floods and droughts cannot be easily ignored. The movie An Inconvenient Truthby Al Gore made “global warming” a household term. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change placed the United Nations in the camp of those calling for action. The U.S. Supreme Court has entered the fray, quoting a brief by petitioners in Massachusetts v. EPAconsisting of several states that termed global warming “the most pressing environmental challenge of our time.” Even President George Bush, long considered a skeptic of the proposition that human activities produce greenhouse gases, which in turn cause global warming, has recently acknowledged the need for multinational cooperation on this issue. The prevalent idea for controlling greenhouse gases calls for the development of a “cap-and-trade” system. Used successfully in the Clean Air Act’s acid rain program, a cap-and-trade system would set a numeric limit on the total quantity of greenhouse gases emitted. Allowances that would permit the holder to emit a set quantity of greenhouse gases would be given or sold through an open market. This market system would encourage companies that can most efficiently reduce emissions to achieve reductions and sell their unused allowances. Among the Republican contenders, only Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has addressed climate change with specific proposals. He co-sponsored a bill imposing a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions, Senate Bill No. 280, the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007, which Senators Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., also co-sponsored. The Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act, among other things, would establish a market system of tradable allowances of greenhouse gas emissions administered by the EPA commencing in 2012. The allowances would be capped, and the cap would be reduced in stages in 2019, 2029 and 2049. To facilitate trades of allowances, the act would create a national greenhouse gas database and registry. Consumers adversely impacted by the cost of the greenhouse gas reductions would obtain some relief through the purchase and sale of allowances by a newly created entity to be called the Climate Change Credit Corp. Some Republican candidates, including Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have recognized climate change threats without advancing specific proposals to address them. Representatives Ron Paul, R-Texas,and Tom Tancredo, R-Col., have expressed doubt about the scientific basis of the global warming debate, while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has emphasized the economic consequences of the Kyoto Protocol. The Democratic candidates have been vocal on the greenhouse gas emission issue. Six of the eight Democratic candidates � Senators Clinton, Obama, Joeseph Biden, D-Del., and Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.; Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio; and former Senator John Edwards � have advocated an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. They and Sen. Mike Gravel, D-Alaska, also agree on using a cap-and-trade mechanism to achieve reductions, but they do not all necessarily agree on the specific cap-and-trade system. Sens. Biden, Clinton, Dodd and Obama are all co-sponsors of the pending Senate Bill No. 309, titled the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act, which aims to reduce greenhouse gases. The act would, among other things, amend the Clean Air Act and authorize the EPA to achieve emission reductions through market mechanisms, greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions standards for vehicles and emission standards for electric generation units. Motor vehicles and electric generation units, both targeted in this bill, are the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Clinton also has sponsored Senate Bill No. 1059, designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in federal buildings. Biden sponsored a resolution to negotiate an international agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Kucinich co-sponsored House Resolution No. 1590 (the Safe Climate Act of 2007), which, among other things, would freeze U.S. greenhouse gases in 2010 at 2009 levels and thereafter require emission reductions of about 2 percent per year through use of a cap-and-trade program and other measures. The bill also requires the EPA to set greenhouse gas emission standards for automobiles and requires the Department of Energy to establish national renewable energy standards. One Democratic candidate, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, has gone farther than his competitors on the issue of greenhouse gas emissions. He proposes a 90 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050, and supports using a cap-and-trade policy to achieve that goal. It is possible that this more aggressive target is simple posturing in order to out-do the competition. Given Richardson’s experience as energy secretary under President Bill Clinton, however, his position should not be lightly dismissed. Energy Independence Energy independence is both an environmental and a national security issue. The United States imports 37 percent of its oil from Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) countries. This dependence leads to a combination of foreign policy, national security and global warming concerns. “Renewable” sources of energy include solar, wind and geothermal energy. They use limitless natural elements to generate electricity with virtually no negative by-products or emissions. Nuclear energy is not fully renewable, but is based on plentiful supply and produces virtually no greenhouse gas emissions. Some renewable energy advocates oppose nuclear energy because of the waste it creates. Imposing a renewable energy standard would promote energy independence. The standard could consist of a mandate stating that by a certain date, generators must supply a specified percentage of electricity from renewable sources. The variables in such a standard are what percentage by what date, what sources would be considered “renewable,” and who would bear the burden of meeting the standard. The energy independence issue is addressed across both sides of the aisle. Six of the Republican candidates � Brownback, Giuliani, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, McCain, Romney, and former Senator Fred Thompson � are consistent in their call for energy independence, although they decline to provide details regarding how they would propose to achieve such energy independence. The other three Republican candidates � representatives Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., Paul and Tancredo � do not appear to have taken a position regarding energy independence. Almost all of the Democratic candidates favor energy independence. Several have proposed specific target levels and dates, but none have identified all sources that would be considered “renewable.” Two of the Democratic candidates (Clinton and Dodd) support a standard whereby 20 percent of the nation’s electricity would be produced from renewable energy sources by the year 2020. Biden supports the 20 percent standard, but has not stated a target year by which the standard would be implemented. Sources in Biden’s campaign indicate that he is currently studying options for target dates. Two other Democratic candidates (Obama and Edwards) advance a standard whereby 25 percent of the nation’s electricity would be produced from renewable energy sources by the year 2025. Kucinich would require 20 percent of the nation’s electricity to be produced renewably by the year 2010. Richardson would mandate that 30 percent of the nation’s electricity be produced renewably by the year 2020, with that standard rising to 50 percent by the year 2040. 2004 Platforms If we consider the candidates’ views as reflecting those of their parties, the policies of the Democratic and Republican parties have evolved within as short a time as the last three years. Compared with the 2004 presidential election, the current Democratic candidates’ positions are much more specific, whereas the current Republican candidates’ positions are much less specific. The Democratic National Party platform in 2004 included the general reduction in air emissions, but did not specifically mention greenhouse gases, nor did it set any specific targets for greenhouse gas reduction. Similarly, the 2004 Democratic platform stated the need for energy independence, but refrained from setting any specific targets to be met. By contrast, the 2008 Democratic candidates have proposed specific greenhouse gas reduction targets. The Republican National Party platform in 2004 specifically discussed the need for a cap-and-trade program to curb greenhouse gas emissions. It also stated the goal of reducing emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury by 70 percent. This year, only McCain has proposed a program approaching this specificity. With the first presidential primaries just a few months away, the candidates are under pressure to hone their positions on various issues. Their positions offered to date suggest that greenhouse gas reductions and energy independence are likely to be the key issues for the next administration. Because generation and use of most forms of renewable energy produce far fewer greenhouse gas emissions than does generation from fossil fuels, there is considerable overlap between the two issues. As the candidates’ positions evolve, it will be interesting to see if any propose an integrated plan of environmental protection and energy generation. The convergence of these issues is likely to produce new policy visions over the next year of presidential politics. Kenneth J. Warren is a partner at Wolf Block Schorr & Solis-Cohen and chairman of its environmental practice group. He is a past chairman of the American Bar Association section of environment, energy and resources.Kelly A. Gable is an associate in the firm’s environmental practice group.

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