2012 is quite a monumental year for me for a number of reasons. But at the top of that list is voting in my first presidential election. Knowing that this responsibility lays ahead of me, I began researching, learning and understanding the candidates and their platforms. I recorded the debates, I read articles, and I watched the fact checking reports. All this left me more confused than when I began my journey as a first-time voter. To me, the debates seemed plagued with vagueness and an excessive amount of interrupting the moderator. The fact checks that followed the next day inferred that each candidate never completely spoke the truth.
While elections can stir up a lot of disagreements, I think one thing we can all agree on is the lack of attention environmental issues received from both candidates. Or did I miss something? As many media outlets have reported in the last week, this is the first presidential election in decades that we never heard the words “climate change” mentioned together in a debate. Is that because Americans are more worried about the economy, healthcare and foreign policy?
The September-October edition of Audubon magazine takes up this issue in its article “Election 2012 Meltdown, As the World Heats Up, the Candidates Leave Voters Out in the Cold.” The article, written by Bradford Plumer, discusses how the environment is low on the candidates’ agendas because voters seem less concerned with it. “A Gallup poll from 2012, for example, found that Americans’ worries about air and drinking water pollution had fallen to their lowest points in decades.” While voter opinions show that the economy is high priority, the environment should not fall to the wayside. The next person who sits in the Oval Office will have to make many big decisions about environmental issues. Plumer’s article says “Experts from across the political spectrum agree that the next president will face a variety of challenges—deciding whether to expand regulations on carbon dioxide, for instance, or figuring out what to do about the boom in shale-gas fracking.”
The economy has seemingly taken over the focus of this election, but in many instances economy and environment are intertwined. Tax breaks and stimulus packages have impacted the clean energy industry dramatically over the past couple of years. Plumer’s article cites solar photovoltaic systems have dropped from $7.20/watt in 2007 to $3.47/watt in 2011. Similarly, wind turbine costs have dropped 27 percent from 2008 to 2011. Will this type of funding continue?
Energy, its cost, and its impacts on the environment should all be examined during this election. What are the candidates’ stances on drilling for oil? Plumer’s article states that Romney and Obama support drilling in both the Beaufort and Chukchi seas off the Alaskan coast, but only Romney supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
But we all know there are more environmental issues to take the candidates to task. What about fracking, transportation standards and more? I wanted to share this chart from Van Ness Feldman Attorneys at Law because it has been helpful in my campaign research. It shows the major energy issues and where each candidate stands on the issues. If the candidates aren’t going to talk about it, then it is up to us as voters to do some digging.
What resources have you been using to track the environmental platforms?