Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Martin O'Malley: Views on Climate Change in the First Democratic Presidential Debate

Martin O'Malley is the best known of the four lesser candidates and he may be the most strident proponent of renewable energy of them all. The polls indicate that he is in third place, however he has a better plan to tackle climate change than the front-runner, Hillary Clinton and perhaps even the second place contender Bernie Sanders.

O'Malley says that tackling climate change and specifically transitioning the US away from fossil fuels and growing renewable energy will be the number one priority of his presidency.  As he said in the Democratic presidential debate on October 13th:

"We can get there as a nation, but it’s going to require presidential leadership. And as president, I intend to sign as my very first order in office the — an order that moves us as a nation and dedicates our resources to solving this problem and moving us to a 100 percent clean electric grid by 2050."
He supports clean energy, as well as related innovation and research. As he explained in the debate he is the only candidate to advance a 100 percent renewable energy target by 2050:
"I have put forward a plan — and I’m the only candidate, I believe, in either party to do this — to move America forward to a 100 percent clean electric grid by 2050."
While he supports incentives for renewables, he wants to end incentives for fossil fuels. He would place a number of limits on fossil fuel production and exportation and he has indicated that he will not take campaign finance money from fossil fuel companies. He would go beyond President Obama's power plant rules and instruct the EPA to reign in methane leaks from oil and gas production. He would also reject the Keystone XL and Arctic drilling.

O'Malley believes that investing in clean energy will exploit the best business and job opportunity in a century. He wants to increase investment in the physical and intellectual infrastructure to power a clean energy economy. He has advocated what he calls "a new clean energy job corps to rebuild, retrofit and restore American communities and environment." He wants to train workers to be able to participate in clean energy industries and modernize our he wants to modernize the electric grid to support local, renewable energy generation.

He explained his position in the debate saying:
"we must square our shoulders to the great challenge of climate change and make this threat our opportunity. The future is what we make of it. We are all in this together. And, the question in this election is whether you and I still have the ability to give our kids a better future. I believe we do, that is why I am running for president, and I need your help."
He supports rural clean energy finance and battery storage technologies. He has also indicated that he will seek legislation that puts a cap on carbon emissions.

O'Malley has an aggressive agenda to double energy efficiency within 15 years. He is also a strong proponent of green building including energy efficiency retrofits of federal buildings and making new federal buildings net-zero. He has indicated that if he were to become President he would set higher energy efficiency standards for new buildings.

In addition he has said that federal fleets would be low or zero emissions, he would create new green spaces, and restore and expand forests so they can absorb more greenhouse gases. He would also support climate resilient infrastructure.

As he wrote in USA Today, on June 18, 2015:
"Clean energy represents the biggest business and job creation opportunity we’ve seen in a hundred years. Reliance on local, renewable energy sources also means a more secure nation and a more stable world. Given the grave threat that climate change poses to human life on our planet, we have not only a business imperative but a moral obligation to future generations to act immediately and aggressively. This is why protecting the United States from the devastating impact of climate change — while capitalizing on the job creation opportunity of clean energy — is at the center of my campaign for President. Making the transition to a clean energy future is also an engineering challenge. We cannot meet the climate challenge with an all-of-the-above energy strategy, or by drilling off our coasts, or by building pipelines that bring oil from tar sands in Canada. Instead, we must be intentional and committed to one over-arching goal as a people: a full, complete transition to renewable energy – and an end to our reliance on fossil fuels."
O'Malley see climate change as a threat exacerbating other issues. Altogether his platform could radicallly reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs). As Governor of Maryland he reduced GHGs by nearly 10 percent over just seven years.

O'Malley is under no illusions he realizes that substantially reducing GHGs to manage climate change will be difficult. As he explained in the debate what is required is a national effort:
"We did not land a man on the moon with an all-of-the-above strategy. It was an intentional engineering challenge, and we solved it as a nation. And our nation must solve this one."
 To achieve his ambitious objectives he has put forth a comprehensive strategy that is a reflection of what is already being accomplished in parts of the US. Again from the debate he said:
"So I put forward the plan that would extend the investor tax credits for solar and for wind. If you go across Iowa, you see that 30 percent of their energy now comes from wind. We’re here in Las Vegas, one of the most sustainable cities in America, doing important things in terms of green building, architecture and design."

See the climate positions of the other Democratic presidential candidates: Bernie Sanders, Hillary ClintonLincoln Chaffee, Larry Lessig and Jim Webb.

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