The Big Issues that should be on the Top of Candidates' Agendas
Candidates for the 2012 presidential elections have already begun to throw their hats in to race. While many issues determine a voter’s choice, one of the biggest issues that voters must consider for the 2012 elections is environmental issues.
Politicians are continuously under scrutiny with how they approach the environment and next year will be no different. Al Gore even recently came out and accused Obama of not doing enough, and things like this will have a huge impact on the results of next year’s election. So what are some of the big glaring issues that should be on the top of a candidate’s agenda?
Environmental safeguards refer to legislation that is put in place as measures of protection for the environment. These provisions concern air quality, energy, land use, water resources and solid waste management, and include the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act (CAA).
One of the environmental safeguards that will be a major issue in the 2012 elections is the Clean Air Act. CAA was passed by Congress in 1970, and since then the act has been amended several times. CAA provisions have dramatically reduced the presence of pollution in the air that leads to acid rain, lead poising and smog. While some argue that CAA costs tax payers an absurd amount of money, the benefits to human health and the environment have been found to be more than 40 times the costs of regulation, according to the League of Women Voters.
In the 2012 presidential election, candidates will also have to take a stance on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new rules for power plants, which would limit the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions new and existing power plants and oil refineries can emit.
Domestic Offshore Drilling
Offshore drilling refers to the development of systems to extract oil and gas resources from underwater. While offshore drilling can occur in lakes and seas, the technique is more commonly used in oceans. Proponents of offshore drilling believe that the method will reduce the
’ dependence on importing oil and other energy resources from foreign countries, which could help reduce oil prices. However, environmental groups believe that offshore drilling causes too much damage to the environment and is not worth the exchange for cheaper oil. United States
Over the years, bans surrounding offshore drilling have been created and lifted. In 2008, former president George W. Bush lifted a ban on offshore drilling that was initiated by former president George H.W. Bush in 1990. George W. Bush also called for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge after the ban was lifted. In 2010, President Barack Obama (a proponent of limited offshore drilling) opened new domestic locations for offshore drilling. In May 2011, the House of Representatives voted to force the Obama administration to open more domestic locations for offshore drilling off the coast of
and the Virginia Gulf of Mexico.
Cap and Trade
Cap and trade, also known as emissions trade, is a system that enables the government to control pollution by offering economic incentives for companies that are able to reduce emissions. The government sets a limit (cap) on the amount of specific pollutants that are allowed to be emitted. Caps vary based on the company’s purpose and size, and must hold a permit for the number of caps — essentially exchanging permits for pollution (trade).
The American Clean Energy and Security Act, which would regulate GHG cap and trade, was passed in 2009 by the House of Representatives, but it never passed in the Senate. The issue will once again be relevant in the 2012 elections, but may have a more difficulty passing through Congress, since the Congressional elections in 2010 resulted in the Republican party gaining many seats in both the House and the Senate. However, proponents of cap and trade believe that it is a way for the government to protect the environment from pollution, while creating another source of revenue. The 2010 federal budget includes $15 billion per year for 10 years, which would be generated from GHG emissions credits.
Written By: Jenn Pedde