The Candidates for Vice President on the Environment
We here at 10,000 Birds tend not to wear our politics on our sleeves, preferring to focus on birds, bugs, nature and conservation. But the current election for President of the United States is critical: after eight years of the Bush Administration gutting environmental regulations and being almost completely inactive on global warming (when not being entirely hostile to the concept that global warming is being caused by people) we need a presidential administration that will try to protect the environment and not seek more ways to exploit it. In the weeks leading up to the major party conventions John McCain cleverly managed to somewhat blur the differences between him and Barack Obama as far as environmental policy but the choices both men made for their running mates speak volumes about where the two stand.
First, Sarah Palin. A google search Saturday afternoon on “Sarah Palin, environment” resulted in an opinion piece entitled “Sarah Palin’s record on environment is abysmal” coming up first. Wow, that was easy! A choice quote from the piece follows:
The pattern is clear. On the environment, Sarah Palin is essentially George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and perhaps James Watt rolled into one, but with a more pleasant demeanor. At a time when the nation and world urgently need strong environmental leadership from the United States, it is important to look beyond charisma and carefully consider the environmental implications of our vote in November.
But what positions does Palin have that would cause someone to write such a thing? Well, as hard as it may be to believe, she, in her position as governor of Alaska, sued the Bush Administration’s Department of the Interior for listing the Polar Bear as a threatened species (she even wrote an op-ed in the New York TImes opposing listing the bear). As ridiculous as it sounds it appears that Palin is actually worse than Bush on the environment! And she has been quoted as saying “I’m not one though who would attribute it [global warming] to being man-made.”
Trying to find anyone who actually thinks Palin would be good for the environment if elected Vice President is impossible. I simply can’t find anyone out there on the internets who makes such a claim. This may be tied into Palin’s anti-evolution ideology: it is difficult to imagine someone who doesn’t base their policy decision making on fact instead of fiction having much of an interest in applying science to conservation, a view backed up by those interviewed in this AP article:
“Her philosophy from our perspective is cut, kill, dig and drill,” said John Toppenberg, director of the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, maintaining she is “in the Stone Age of wildlife management and is very opposed to utilizing accepted science.”
On the other hand Joe Biden, Barack Obama’s running mate, has an 83% lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters during his long Senate tenure (which might help explain why the LCV endorsed Obama). He is well known as a staunch supporter of Amtrak to the point where he commutes on Amtrak trains on his way to and from the Senate every day. In 2007, in front of a Senate Committee he as quoted as saying
I personally believe that the single most important step we can take to resume a leadership role in international climate-change efforts would be to make real progress toward a domestic emissions-reduction regime. For too long we have abdicated the responsibility to reduce our own emissions, the largest single source of the problem we face today. We have the world’s largest economy, with the highest per-capita emissions. Rather than leading by example, we have retreated from international negotiations.
Clearly, Joe Biden would be better for the environment as Vice President than Sarah Palin would be. What this says about the priorities of the two men running for President is clear: Barack Obama has backed up his rhetoric about the environment with a running mate who thinks environmental issues matter while John McCain has shown that his rhetoric about the environment is just that. If John McCain seriously wanted to improve the environment after eight years of the Bush Administration’s environmental misrule he could have picked a running mate that actually had environmental bona fides. Instead, he picked a woman who has a record as bad as, if not worse than, the horrible-for-the-environment Bush Administration.