Earlier this week, representatives of four presidential candidates (two Democrat, two Republican) appeared for an issues briefing at the National Press Club on energy policy — videos here (warning, they are kind of boring). The short version is that the politically polite rhetoric managed to smooth over the sticky policy points: details of a cap and trade program and nuclear energy policy.
Congressman David E. Bonior spoke on behalf of John Edwards, Senator Tom Daschle on behalf of Barack Obama, former Secretary of Energy John S. Herrington for Rudy Giuliani, and Douglas J. Holtz-Eakin for John McCain.
The representatives loved to point out that they agreed on two things: leadership and urgency. The discussion was diplomatic and strategically ambiguous, as they did not all agree which required leadership and urgency – energy policy or climate policy.
Secretary Herrington was the outlier whose priority was clearly energy policy (and it’s no wonder, given his background). Only Herrington expressed hesitation regarding a cap and trade program, while the others sparred more over details of a plan. Rather than discuss climate, Herrington repeatedly revolve his comments around Giuliani’s two energy priorities: investing in nuclear energy for our electricity sector and using natural gas to fuel our vehicle fleet. [JR -- a truly pointless idea since 1) natural gas can be used twice as efficiently displacing coal power and 2) if natural gas became a major transport fuel, we'd have to import it, so it doesn't solve our energy security problem.]
Since Giuliani is the Republican front-runner, this lame energy/climate policy is quite discouraging.