The method in which America creates energy has been a hot topic during the 2008 presidential election. For most, a primary concern deals with how we can keep prices down at the pump while eliminating our need for foreign oil. This desire has lead to the “drill here, drill now” crowd calling for domestic offshore drilling (among other things). While everyone agrees that energy independent principles are vital to revving up the American economy, there are big differences in how to accomplish this task. Notably, when it comes to the energy resources and environmental protection standards, there are fundamental differences in Barack Obama’s and John McCain’s interests. Additionally, when it comes to bills in congress addressing consumer protection, manufacturing standards, and other topics not talked about enough, the future will heavily depend upon which candidate prevails. The following include a few you may not have known about, and some you may have, but they are all liable to affect the lives of everyday Americans.
One fact to note when looking for the candidates policies on their respective websites is that Barack Obama has a category named “Energy and Environment” under the “Issues” section. On the other hand, John McCain has “American Energy” and “Climate Change” listed as separate categories under the “Issues” section. This seemingly subtle difference represents some conflicting policies between the two candidates. While McCain believes in global warming, he is resistant to associate the call for more oil with his global warming concerns because supporting the two issues is a sheer contradiction. In sum, Obama wants to rid our dependence on all oil (not just foreign) and McCain wants to use every available resource needed to end our dependence on foreign oil. McCain calls his energy plan “The Lexington Project,” which is an all of the above energy solution according to his website. Included is expansion of domestic oil and natural oil exploration, tax credits for automakers and consumers who buy cars with low carbon emissions, $2 billion annually reserved for clean coal technology, 45 new nuclear power plants and he will “encourage” the market for alternative fuels such as wind, hydro, and solar power. He has greenhouse gas emissions targets listed in the climate change section that includes dropping it 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and 66 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. Obama calls his plan “comprehensive” and puts added emphasis on new forms of energy. He wants to provide $1,000 to American families through a windfall profits tax, calling it an “Emergency Energy Rebate.” He will invest $150 billion over the next 10 years to build a clean energy future, and in that same allotted time, rid American dependency of foreign oil. He wants to put one million plug-in hybrid cars on the road by 2015 and ensure 10 percent of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012 and 25 percent by 2025. In addition, Obama wants to implement an economy wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. Interestingly, by 2050 many of those reading this article still won’t be as old as John McCain is now. Moving on, there are other issues that you may not hear about quite as much. The use of asbestos in products and the manufacturing industry could come to a close in 2009. Senator Patty Murray introduced the “Ban Asbestos in America Act” that has been introduced and passed by the entire U.S. Senate. However, the bill does contain a harmful pro-industry amendment eliminating coverage for workers exposed to products containing one percent or less of asbestos. CWA and the AFL-CIO will work to have this language omitted in the final Senate-House legislation.
Congresswoman Betty McCollum has introduced the “Bruce Vento Asbestos and Prevent Mesothelioma Act of 2008.” This legislation is not expected to be passed by the full house during 2008, so this is basically groundwork in order to get the bill passed in 2009. Right now there are now mesothelioma treatments that result in a cure. Another bill is the “Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Act of 2008.” These are all supported by the Blue-Green Labor/Environmental Coalition.
With Barack Obama as president and a Congress dominated by democrats, the above legislation should all pass. With John McCain as president, the bills could be vetoed.
In paying for all of these plans, Barack Obama pledges to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans (annual income of $250,000) and raise taxes on oil companies. While John McCain will actually lower taxes for oil companies, he pledges to cut small business taxes and promote fiscal responsibility within the government. He says that with bi-partisan efforts, he can bring the budget to balance by 2013. Until then, expect a dirty fight in efforts toward a cleaner America.
This article was submitted by Jesse Herman, the National Awareness Coordinator for the Mesothelioma Cancer Center.