While the GOP presidential field dwindled from a high of 17 candidates down to the lone man standing, presumptive nominee Donald Trump, two political forces continue to duke it out for the nod on the Democratic side. While Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton both fundamentally support the science of climate change, they strike different tones in their proposed policy action. As such, we thought it would be interesting to compare their views.
On the issue
In bills he has introduced, Sanders calls for a 40 percent decrease in carbon emissions from 1990 levels, a more stringent reduction trajectory than the one the United States agreed to in Paris (a 28 percent reduction based on 2005 emissions levels). In his own words, “we have a crisis of historical consequence here little steps are not enough. Not right now. Not on climate change.” Clinton says she will stay the course set by the Obama Administration in the form of the Clean Power Plan and fuel economy standards. “It’s easy to diagnose the problem,” Clinton said in one of the Democratic debates. “It’s harder to do something about the problem.” Her campaign has indicated that as president she would have a climate map room, with real time imagery of the global effects overlaid with the technologies available to manage situations.
On natural gas/fracking
Sanders vehemently opposes hydraulic fracturing the process required to tap into the U.S.’s vast resources of shale gas and has called for a ban on its use. Clinton calls natural gas “one of the bridge fuels” toward a clean energy future and as Secretary of State, promoted fracking in other emissions intensive, coal-dependent countries. She does not oppose fracking but supports tighter federal regulation of the industry.
On nuclear power
Again, Sanders and Clinton are divided. Clinton considers nuclear energy an important component of the clean energy future, while Sanders has called for a moratorium on nuclear power plant renewal licenses. “Nuclear power is and always has been a dangerous idea because there is no good way to store nuclear waste,” Sanders said recently.
On a carbon tax
Sanders introduced a carbon tax bill that would impose a $15/ton tax on CO2, ramping up to $73 by 2035. Revenues from the tax would be given as rebates to households making under $100,000 and used to fund renewable energy and low carbon investments. When pressed by the Vermont senator, Clinton refused to indicate whether she would support his measure. “I don’t take a back seat to your legislation that you’ve introduced that you haven’t been able to get passed. I want to do what we can do to actually make progress in dealing with the crisis.”