Energy and the 2016 Presidential Candidates

February 17, 2016. Image credit: PBS

Energy is the link that connects every U.S. citizen to the buildings, infrastructure, and means of transportation throughout the country. Energy policies have the power to impact both domestic and international economies. As the presidential race heats up, Zondits examines the energy policies and stances of the leading presidential candidates to see where they fall on the major issues.

Hillary Clinton Presidential CandidateHillary Clinton

Energy Efficiency: Hillary Clinton worked across the aisle to get the federal government to expand the use of geothermal energy in powering its buildings. She introduced legislation to make federal buildings more energy efficient and she proposed making energy efficiency “a core mission” of the General Services Administration. Hillary also introduced legislation to help states upgrade school buildings to make them more energy efficient.

Energy Infrastructure: Clinton will galvanize the investment needed to help cities, states, and rural communities upgrade and repair existing energy infrastructure and build the new infrastructure we will need for a clean energy future. Clinton’s vision for modernizing North American energy infrastructure is one pillar of her comprehensive energy and climate agenda, which includes major initiatives in the following areas: Clean Energy Challenge, Energy and Climate Security, Safe and Responsible Production, Revitalizing Coal Communities, and Collaborative Stewardship.

Financial Investment: As President, Clinton will immediately launch negotiations with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to secure a North American Climate Compact that includes ambitious national targets, coordinated policy approaches, and strong accountability measures to catalyze clean energy deployment, reduce energy costs, cut greenhouse gas emissions, guide infrastructure investment, and make our integrated energy and vehicle markets cleaner and more efficient.

Fracking: Less than a week before the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton attended a gala fundraiser in Philadelphia at the headquarters of Franklin Square Capital Partners, a major investor in the fossil-fuel industry, particularly domestic fracking. The controversial fracking industry is particularly powerful in Pennsylvania, which will host the Democratic National Convention this July. Clinton’s affinity for this dangerous form of fossil fuel extraction is highlighted in a Mother Jones piece titled How Hillary Clinton’s State Department Sold Fracking to the World.

Bernie Sanders Presidential CandidateBernie Sanders

Energy Efficiency: The United States must transform its energy system away from fossil fuels such as oil and coal, and towards energy-efficient, sustainable, clean, and renewable energy solutions such as wind, solar, and geothermal.

Energy Infrastructure: Bernie believes energy transmittal systems that greatly improve electrical transmission efficiency, or “smart grids”, offer real benefits for both consumers and the environment. These grids have made Vermont, his home state, a national clean energy leader with a stronger, more efficient, and more reliable electric system. In 2011, Bernie announced a three-year, $15 million federal commitment to open the first-ever New England national laboratory. Dubbed the Center for Energy Transformation and Innovation (CETI), the lab focuses its work on the smart meters throughout Vermont, enabling all the state’s utilities to better manage energy consumption and efficiently integrate renewable energy sources into the power grid.

Financial Access to Renewable Energy: Working families must have access to assistance in implementing sustainable energy practices at home.

Green Jobs: Sustainable sources of energy will create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Fracking: He wants to ban fracking. Bernie sponsored the Climate Protection Act of 2013, which would have “amend[ed] the Safe Drinking Water Act to repeal the exemption from restrictions on underground injection of fluids or propping agents granted to hydraulic fracturing.”

Ted Cruz Presidential CandidateTed Cruz

Fracking: Cruz’s bill [American Energy Renaissance Act] would prevent the federal government from ever imposing regulations on fracking, which has been linked to earthquakes (including in Texas) and has been found to produce billions of gallons of toxic wastewater. Cruz’s sweeping legislation calls for a halt on federal regulation on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and for the Keystone XL pipeline to be approved, among a handful of other deregulation proposals.

Renewable Fuels:  Cruz has come under fire for his position on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which mandates the amount of ethanol refiners mix into their gasoline supply. The Texas senator says he backs a five-year phase-out of the standard, though in the past he has supported measures to immediately end the RFS.

EPA Regulations: Cruz also called for an end to Environmental Protection Agency and the “war on coal,” by excluding greenhouse gases from EPA regulation.

Trump Presidential CandidateDonald Trump

Climate Change: In a January 2014 interview on FOX News, Donald Trump claimed climate change was “a hoax.” Two years earlier, Trump tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

Renewable Energy: On August 24, 2012, Trump tweeted that wind turbines were “an environmental & aesthetic disaster.”

Fracking: In an interview with Greta Van Sustern on FOX News in January 2012, Trump called President Barack Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline “disgraceful.” Trump added, “Frankly, we don’t need Canada. We should just be able to drill our own oil. As long as it’s there we certainly should have approved it. It was jobs and cheaper oil. It’s just absolutely incredible. I guess President Obama took care of the environmentalists, but it is absolutely terrible. And it is not an environmental problem at all in any way, shape, or form.”

Marco Rubio Presidential CandidateMarco Rubio

Keystone XL Pipeline: Rubio issues this statement in 2012:

President Obama’s decision not to move forward on the Keystone pipeline is a mistake. This decision offers even more appalling evidence that this administration is hopelessly rudder-less in its jobs and energy policies. By not acting on Keystone, the President is depriving America of a means to create jobs, take a step towards energy independence, and bolster our national security by tapping into our energy resources and those of our friends in Canada instead of tyrannical governments.

EPA Regulations: Rubio vowed to reverse key components of the climate agenda Obama has been touting in Alaska, while also making the case for turning back some of the nation’s energy authority to the states and away from the federal government.

Energy Infrastructure & Development: Rubio believes that policies that expand access to oil, gas, and coal development can also expand access to the development of wind, solar, nuclear, and hydropower energy.

Climate Change: In an open letter dated January 21, 2016, 15 Florida mayors called on Marco Rubio to acknowledge climate change and its impact on agriculture and coastal flooding in the state. In May 2014, Marco Rubio said, “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it. I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy.”