QUESTIONS FOR CANDIDATES
A nonpartisan questionnaire about energy and America's future.
This non-partisan candidate questionnaire is intended to further public, media and candidate understanding of energy policy, a subject of broad interest to all Americans and the electorate.
Since 2001, oil prices
have gone up more than 260 percent, and the big five oil companies
(ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, ChevronTexaco, and ConocoPhillips) have recorded
$375 billion in profits. Do you support or oppose establishment of
a windfall profits tax on oil companies, in order to fund research
and development of renewable energy, energy efficiency and mass transit
Scientists warn that the United States must begin to cut global
warming pollution during the next ten years and reduce it by 60-80%
by 2050 in order mitigate the most severe impacts of global warming.
What are your views on global warming, and do you support or oppose
this pollution reduction goal?
I support windfall profits tax on oil companies, as well as making them pay more of their fair share of regular corporate taxes. I also support funding for research and development of renewable energy, energy efficiency and mass transit initiatives. But I would caution against linking the two, because if the research into renewable energy is successful, there will be less and less, and eventually no, windfall profits to tax. As an older American myself (59 next month), I am finding
that many of my campaign volunteers are of my generation or older.
Do you support or oppose federal subsidies for the following energy industries:
oil and gas, coal, nuclear, renewable?
We have only one environment, we need to protect it. (I've been an organic farmer for several decades.) We need to respect the science on this, and do more of it, so we know what we're dealing with. We should have signed the Kyoto climate change treaty long ago, and upped the mileage standards for vehicles, as well as tightened the pollution controls on industry. I have proposed a goal of national energy self-sufficiency through renewable resources.
Do you support or oppose a federal policy designed to get 25% of America's
energy supply from cleanly-produced bio-fuels, solar energy and wind
I am open to the idea of federal subsidies for renewable energy production, if the market forces do not provide enough impetus in this direction. I have been encouraged by the interest in this direction in the past year as a result of the surge in gasoline prices. As for oil, gas, coal, and nuclear, I oppose federal subsidies for these industries, and would like to see the current subsidies abolished.
What is your position regarding the expansion of nuclear power in the United States?
I am opposed to expansion of nuclear power in the United States. Even if the technology has advanced to the point that we do not face a melt-down or explosion from within (as in Chernobyl), the huge plants present too much of a terrorist target, which could result in the same devastating spread of radioactivity. Also, we still have the problems associated with the mining of uranium, and the disposal of radioactive waste, as well as the contamination from depleted uranium ordnance.
Wildlife, including game species and sport fish, has been documented as highly
vulnerable to global warming. Would you support or oppose the inclusion
of funding for wildlife conservation programs in federal policy proposals
on global warming?
But 25% is too low. I have advocated in my campaign a national goal of energy self-sufficiency through renewable resources -- solar, wind, tidal, hydro, geo-thermal, and fuels such as biodiesel, ethanol, and others made from annual crops or trees. It would clean the air, provide an economic resurgence building and servicing this new energy infrastructure, and it would change foreign policy by eliminating the need for foreign oil.
A growing number of faith leaders are expressing the view that scripture calls
on mankind to be stewards of God's creation, a responsibility that
means limiting pollution and other harms to the environment. What
is your opinion about this?
We need more science and research into this phenomenon. I know as an organic farmer that I am seeing insects in central Maine that never before made it through our winters. Not sure how we can help, other than dealing with the cause of the problem -- global warming itself.
This has been my sense of what we were all about since I was old enough to consider the issue. I'm glad to hear some faith leaders are coming on board to this idea. Others, of course, have been preaching gentleness and responsibility toward the earth, its creatures and each other for generations.
Some experts say that national security threats emanating from the Middle East
are related to our nation's dependence on oil. Do you agree or disagree
with this point of view, and why? How do you propose mitigating national
security threats from this region?
If our nation was not dependent on foreign oil, foreign policy would change dramatically. That is what is so exciting about my plan for energy self-sufficiency through renewable resources. It's a win, win, win situation -- cleaner air, an economic engine building and maintaining a new energy infrastructure, and a major shift in foreign policy.
With existing and emerging technologies, automakers could produce a fleet of
cars and light trucks that achieve over 40 miles per gallon of gasoline.
Do you support or oppose requiring standard cars and light trucks
to meet a 40 mpg standard?
Companies facing the prospect of regulatory or physical risks that could increase
or decrease shareholder value are required to disclose such risks
in their securities filings to the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission
(SEC). Some investors suggest requiring disclosure of risks related
to climate change, which the SEC does not currently require. Do you
agree or disagree that disclosure of such risks should be required?
But 40 MPG is not enough. Technology exists for higher ratings. And the ultimate vehicle would be an electric car that can be recharged from solar panels or a windmill in the back yard. (We are looking into solar tractors, which already exist, that are powered by solar panels in the roof of the cab, and include heavy batteries that are an asset in farming.)
Property insurance companies are increasingly avoiding areas perceived as high
risk as a result of climate change, leaving consumers with fewer choices
and higher prices and increasing the burden on state governments.
Please discuss what role you believe the federal government should
play in ensuring stable insurance markets in areas affected by global
Sounds like a great idea.
I do not think the government should encourage development in areas which will be adversely affected by global warming. I think under the current flood insurance program, the government should compensate damage only once on a given property (not a given owner). If people want to continue living in such high risk areas, they should shoulder the risk themselves, not ask the government or insurance companies to repeatedly bail them out.
For decades, coal-fired power plants have released large quantities of air
and global warming pollution. What role, if any, do you think the
federal government should have in encouraging retirement of existing
coal-burning power plants? Assuming the federal government did take
on such a role, what steps should it take to promote and how should
it prioritize replacing old coal plants with energy efficiency, renewable
energy (wind, solar or landfill gas, etc.), and power plants that
run on gas made from coal?
Pollution standards should be tightened and strictly enforced. All such plants should be retired as soon as possible, with their energy production coming from renewable resources. A recent study in Maine showed that a few well-placed windmill farms could easily provide all the energy needs for Maine. This is definitely do-able.
Should the United States lead, follow or avoid international efforts to reduce
global warming pollution?
This is another area where the United States, under the current administration, has been woefully inadequate. We should have signed the Kyoto Climate Change treaty long ago. We should be actively working with other nations to clean up the air we all share, and stabilize the deteriorating conditions that will end up killing us all.
A 10 year commitment to invest as much as $30 billion to research and develop
homegrown, energy-saving and renewable technologies could result in
expanded domestic employment opportunities. Do you support or oppose
making such a commitment?
To repeat, a national goal of energy self-sufficiency has been a campaign goal all along. $30 billion is about what we're spending in Iraq in three months, so stopping the war would be a big help. But again, it will be interesting to see how far market forces alone will take us, with the sudden interest in this direction for our energy needs.
With the right policies in place, farmers would have an opportunity to create
new revenue streams by producing renewable energy and by using different
techniques and crops to absorb global warming pollution. What role
do you think federal climate policy should play in making it easier
for farmers to achieve these benefits?
Farmers clearly need to be an integral part of this effort, not just to absorb global warming pollution, but in creation of renewable energy. (A dairy farm near here is putting up a windmill in one of the fields that has only a 15-square-foot base, having a negligible affect on the use of that field for agriculture.) And many farmers, such as Maine's potato growers, are always open to rotational crops that produce a good income.
Do you support or oppose tax incentives that would increase the number of highly
energy-efficient homes, commercial buildings, and other building equipment
such as air conditioners and heat pump water heaters?
Support, but with the caveat, again, that market forces may drive this faster than the need for government subsidies or tax incentives.
Do you support or oppose increasing oil and gas company access to fragile wild
places on public-owned lands?
Using technology to reduce energy consumption is widely considered the most
cost-effective and practical way to reduce energy costs for businesses
and consumers, yet is often by-passed in favor of policies that favor
increasing supplies. Do you support or oppose the federal government
taking a more active role by promoting energy efficient technologies?
With global warming, places like ANWR will not be in permafrost long. I shudder to think of oil rig infrastructure collapsing in that environment when, in a few years, the rigid ground thaws and turns to spongy bog. These fragile wild places need to be protected from the likes of us.
Government at all levels should promote energy efficient technologies, particularly by becoming a good example -- in public buildings, for instance. Beyond that, public information and promotion is good, tighter building codes should be implemented, and other efforts should be tried before government subsidies are offered.
Corporate-based financing of the campaign process can create the appearance
of quid-pro-quo deals when controversial energy-related policies are
under consideration. Would you agree with or oppose a request to refuse
campaign contributions from any oil companies, their political action
committees and their executives?
Public funding of federal campaigns would eliminate this problem. Maine has had a Clean Elections law for a decade, providing public funding for governor and legislative candidates. That has worked well, and should be expanded the federal level.
The National Park Service is already documenting significant changes and future
threats to many of our national parks due to global warming. Given
that Congress created the National Park System for the purpose of
preserving the resources of the parks unimpaired for future generations,
please discuss the role you believe the federal government should
play in protecting the national parks from global warming.
We can't put national parks in a bubble, so the only way we can protect them is by protecting everything from global warming. But research and documentation is key, so we know what we're dealing with.