Here’s How Hillary Clinton Wants to Fight Global Warming

Her campaign announced new national goals for renewable energy deployment and vowed to protect President Obama’s carbon emissions rules.

AMES, IA - JULY 26: Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks to guests gathered for a campaign event at Iowa State University on July 26, 2015 in Ames, Iowa. Although Clinton leads all other Democratic contenders, a recent poll had her trailing several of the Republican candidates in Iowa. 
National Journal
Clare Foran and Ben Geman
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Clare Foran and Ben Geman
July 26, 2015, 2:41 p.m.

Hil­lary Clin­ton began the closely watched rol­lout of her en­ergy-and-cli­mate plat­form Sunday even­ing by an­noun­cing goals that would greatly ex­pand the de­ploy­ment of re­new­able power in the com­ing years.

However, the an­nounce­ment does not ad­dress a suite of con­tro­ver­sial top­ics, in­clud­ing wheth­er Clin­ton sup­ports the Key­stone XL pipeline and wheth­er she would al­low oil drilling in Arc­tic wa­ters.

But the Clin­ton cam­paign em­phas­ized that Sunday’s pro­pos­al is just part of a broad­er cli­mate-and-en­ergy agenda that will un­fold in the com­ing months.

Clin­ton’s plan calls for more than half a bil­lion sol­ar pan­els in­stalled across the coun­try by the end of her first term, and hav­ing the U.S. gen­er­ate enough re­new­able en­ergy to power every home with­in a dec­ade of the start of a Clin­ton pres­id­ency.

Achiev­ing the goals would mean ex­pand­ing the amount of in­stalled sol­ar-en­ergy gen­er­at­ing ca­pa­city by 700 per­cent from cur­rent levels by the end of 2020, and adding more green-power gen­er­a­tion ca­pa­city to the elec­tric grid than any oth­er dec­ade in U.S. his­tory, ac­cord­ing to a sum­mary of the plan.

Ac­cord­ing to the Clin­ton cam­paign, the clean en­ergy agenda out­lined on Sunday would meet the test that en­vir­on­ment­al mega donor Tom Stey­er laid out last week when he called on all can­did­ates to put for­ward a plan to ramp up re­new­able and car­bon-free en­ergy so that it ac­counts for more than half of all power gen­er­a­tion by 2030.

Bri­an Fal­lon, a Clin­ton cam­paign spokes­man, said on Twit­ter: “Clin­ton’s goal trans­lates to 33% of elec­tri­city by 2027. Count­ing nuc­le­ar, as Stey­er does, she ex­ceeds his 50% goal.”

Stey­er was quick to praise Clin­ton while mak­ing clear that he hopes to see the 2016 Demo­crat­ic fron­trun­ner out­line ad­di­tion­al ac­tions she will take to fight glob­al warm­ing.

“Today, Hil­lary Clin­ton emerged as a strong lead­er in solv­ing the cli­mate crisis,” Stey­er said in a state­ment, adding: “we look for­ward to hear­ing more de­tails about her pro­pos­als to tackle cli­mate change.”

The cam­paign un­veiled the clean-en­ergy pledge by re­leas­ing a video and out­line of the plan Sunday even­ing.

“Fu­ture gen­er­a­tions will look back and won­der: What were we think­ing? How could we pos­sibly be so ir­re­spons­ible?” Clin­ton’s voice in­tones dur­ing the video. “I’m just a grand­moth­er with two eyes and a brain, and I know what’s hap­pen­ing in the world is go­ing to have a big ef­fect on my daugh­ter and es­pe­cially on my grand­daugh­ter.”

“You don’t have to be a sci­ent­ist to take on this ur­gent chal­lenge that threatens us all; you just have to be will­ing to act,” Clin­ton adds.

Sunday’s rol­lout is a pivotal polit­ic­al mo­ment in Clin­ton’s re­la­tion­ship to en­vir­on­ment­al­ists, in­clud­ing the more-pro­gress­ive wing of the move­ment that has ques­tioned her green bona fides.

Some en­vir­on­ment­al­ists are du­bi­ous about Clin­ton’s com­mit­ment to power­fully con­front­ing glob­al warm­ing and fossil fuels. The more lefty and ag­gress­ive sec­tors of the green move­ment, such as Ver­mont act­iv­ist Bill McK­ib­ben, note her lack of a Key­stone po­s­i­tion.

And Clin­ton has ap­plauded the eco­nom­ic be­ne­fits of the na­tion’s frack­ing-fueled oil and nat­ur­al-gas boom, and the lower car­bon emis­sions of gas com­pared to coal, while call­ing for “smart” reg­u­la­tions.

The sum­mary of her plan does not touch on where she may seek to al­low or bar de­vel­op­ment, prom­ising only fu­ture in­form­a­tion on the top­ic.

There will be a ma­jor ini­ti­at­ive, the cam­paign said, on ways to “en­sure that fossil fuel pro­duc­tion tak­ing place today is safe and re­spons­ible, that tax­pay­ers get a fair deal for de­vel­op­ment on pub­lic lands, and that areas that are too sens­it­ive for en­ergy pro­duc­tion are taken off the table.”

Steps to achieve the re­new­able power goals an­nounced on Sunday in­clude pro­tect­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s car­bon-emis­sions stand­ards for power plants, ac­cord­ing to the Clin­ton cam­paign, as well as new ini­ti­at­ives. That means, a “new part­ner­ship with states, cit­ies, and rur­al com­munit­ies that are ready to lead on clean en­ergy.” This work would in­clude grants and “mar­ket-based” in­cent­ives to help states cut car­bon bey­ond the stand­ards Obama is im­pos­ing and ac­cel­er­ate green-en­ergy de­ploy­ment.

The cam­paign says Clin­ton, if elec­ted, would pur­sue a wide-ran­ging set of ini­ti­at­ives to ex­pand de­ploy­ment of re­new­able en­ergy, such as re­mov­ing bar­ri­ers to trans­mis­sion and fight­ing to ex­tend green en­ergy tax cred­its on Cap­it­ol Hill, and ex­pand­ing re­new­ables de­vel­op­ment on fed­er­al lands and build­ings, among oth­er steps.

Clin­ton’s cam­paign chair­man, John Podesta, has vowed that Clin­ton would make cli­mate change and clean en­ergy ma­jor themes of her race for the White House.

Sub­sequent an­nounce­ments will ad­dress is­sues such as re­du­cing oil con­sump­tion in the U.S. and around the world, guard­ing against sup­ply dis­rup­tions, and mod­ern­iz­ing en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture, the cam­paign said.

On the heels of Sunday night’s an­nounce­ment, Clin­ton will tour and give a speech on en­ergy and cli­mate Monday at the Des Moines Area Re­gion­al Trans­it Cent­ral Sta­tion, which has a “plat­in­um” cer­ti­fic­a­tion in the U.S. Green Build­ing Coun­cil’s rat­ing sys­tem.

Two oth­er con­tenders for the Demo­crat­ic nod are ap­peal­ing to pro­gress­ive voters with ag­gress­ive cli­mate pro­pos­als and re­cords of their own.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has been gain­ing in the polls and at­tract­ing large crowds, has sponsored le­gis­la­tion to im­pose a tax on car­bon emis­sions.

Sanders also is a long­time op­pon­ent of the Key­stone XL pipeline and has en­dorsed the move­ment among some uni­versit­ies, churches, found­a­tions, and oth­er in­sti­tu­tion­al in­vestors to dump their hold­ings in coal and oil-and-gas com­pan­ies.

Former Mary­land Gov. Mar­tin O’Mal­ley, an­oth­er Key­stone foe, un­veiled a broad plan in June. It pro­poses a man­date to re­quire that all of the na­tion’s elec­tri­city come from re­new­able sources by 2050, while ex­pand­ing EPA’s car­bon emis­sions rules for power plants to cov­er oth­er large pol­lu­tion sources and re­ject­ing any ex­pan­sion of off­shore drilling, among oth­er meas­ures.

O’Mal­ley, saddled with very low polling num­bers, sought to pro­mote his plan ahead of Clin­ton’s an­nounce­ment Sunday.

“Es­chew­ing the piece­meal, poll-tested, ‘all of the above’ en­ergy strategies of the past, O’Mal­ley has made clear that he will use the full force of his ex­ec­ut­ive power to make the trans­ition to a clean en­ergy fu­ture the Num­ber 1 pri­or­ity of our fed­er­al gov­ern­ment,” his cam­paign said.

Clin­ton, in her Sen­ate ca­reer be­fore be­com­ing sec­ret­ary of State, drew high marks from the League of Con­ser­va­tion Voters, which care­fully tracks law­makers’ votes on a suite of en­vir­on­ment­al and en­ergy mat­ters.

She scored an 82 per­cent re­cord for her ca­reer, though her num­bers were dragged down some­what by miss­ing a num­ber of votes while run­ning for pres­id­ent eight years ago.

This post has been up­dated with ad­di­tion­al in­form­a­tion.

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