Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hillary Rodham Clinton

So I’ve been asked to research Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and her stance on climate change and global warming. For the most part I have found a pretty solid performance from her, but sometimes I wonder if it is for different reasons than what could be, such as to stop the Iraq War rather than for the good of the globe. This makes me wonder if she will drop or become lax on policies later on in her term. I will be fair and say that she has other reasons to do these things, but the war and dependence on foreign oil seem to be the ones she mentions the most. This discussion is solely on global warming and climate change issues, not the war itself, so I will stay away from these topics as best I can.

Her policy and platform on global warming, climate change, and energy usage has been growing, with the clearest beginning starting in 2005 when she was running for the senate seat in the 2006 elections. She is currently on the Environment and Public Works Committee in the Senate. She has co-authored numerous bills regarding climate change, global warming, energy conservation, and what the people can do about it. One of her more recent efforts is the Strategic Energy Fund that she proposed last May, which takes away tax breaks for big oil and relieves them of some of their profits in order to use the money gained to do research on clean energy. Also, she started talking about “something like a national institute of energy” (speech, May 2006). She has also voted for many different bills that are in favor of taking steps to combat global warming, as well as voting against the numerous bills that have come up that will contribute in some way to climate change, be it taking away preservations of land or giving breaks to oil and gas companies. Some of these such measures included the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Innovation Act, which failed to pass, and the more recent (and more hardline) Boxer-Sanders Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act.

However, she is a proponent for “clean coal,” which is not as clean as we would like. To be fair she has stated that “… I think you have got to admit that coal – of which we have a great and abundant supply in America – is not going away. So how do we best manage the possibility of using clean coal, but having very strict environmental standards?” (Clinton on the Record, article), which shows to me that she is thinking about it as logically as she can and is only looking into clean coal as an option since we cannot get away from it. It is a very sound point that we would not be able to immediately switch to all renewable energy right now because first, it cannot support our energy use, and, second, we don’t have the resources, plants, or processes in place to pull it off. Looking into cleaner ways to deal with fossil fuels until technology arrives is a thought, but not as green a thought as one would hope.

It seems that many of her stances discuss the war in Iraq and wants to “break the addiction to foreign oil” (“Powering Up For 2006 – and Beyond, article). ”These are only supplementary reasons, if reasons at all, in my mind. There is no guarantee that once these “reasons” go away that the eco-friendliness of the government will continue. I would much rather see someone in higher office giving the better reasons to do these things, including making sure the world is a good place for generations to come. She also lobbied and voted for a trial tire burn in New York State, which ended very early after too much pollution was caused.

All in all, a solid record that someone can stand on. There are detractions from her stance, but very few blatant inconsistencies. Also, I see a lot of talk, but not a similar amount of action, though she has taken steps to work on the issue itself. I think that she should get a B+.

Please note:

In looking up Senator Clinton’s stances, I’ve done my best to stick to her own words, because I think that they are the most accurate gage. No one can spin something if it is the full text of someone’s words. On her supporting sites, they can pick quotes and choose bill proposals that put her in the best light, just as on opposing sites they can do the complete opposite. However, using the full text of speeches I think one can find a clear picture without these lenses.

For further reference:

The speech I referenced from May 2006:

A good interview and a link to a summary of key points on her campaign:

And for those who don’t know, CNN did a debate in partnership with YouTube. I highly recommend watching both the Democratic and the Republican debates. I think it puts a good spotlight on all of the issues facing the presidential candidates.

Photo Source: Official U.S. Senate Photo of Senator Clinton used with out permission under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.

-Laura Santamaria, Cornell University Student

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