2016 Presidential Candidates: Their Grades on Energy, Climate Issues

UPDATE 9/17: Please click here to read why we are downgrading Gov. Chris Christie from “B” to “D” on our report card.

Yesterday’s 2016 Republican presidential debates covered a wide variety of topics. However, aside from one off-handed comment by Jeb Bush about accelerating domestic energy production by reducing regulations on the oil and gas industry, none of the candidates’ views on the Clean Power Plan (CPP) or other energy-related issues were discussed.

Prior to the debates, we researched all of the declared candidates’ (Democrats in blue, Republicans in red) past statements and votes on these topics. Then, we provided each candidate with an overall letter grade (ranging from A to F) based on how friendly or unfriendly they are towards clean energy. The main areas we focused on were their positions on wind, solar, clean energy scaling, fossil fuel subsidies, Keystone XL, fracking, offshore drilling, climate change and the CPP. With that, here are the candidates’ grades (in descending order). Please note that the following grades do not constitute an endorsement of any candidate, but simply serves as our best analysis from a clean energy perspective of where each candidate stands on issues that matter to our industry.

A: Martin O’Malley:

  • Set a goal of 100% clean energy by 2050.
  • Committed to ending all fossil fuel subsidies.
  • Supports long-term tax credits for wind and solar.
  • Says the “threat of climate change is real and immediate.”
  • Opposes Keystone XL and offshore oil drilling.
  • Only supports fracking with strong environmental protections.
  • Strongly supports the CPP.

A: Bernie Sanders:

  • Strong advocate for renewable energy, saying we must “transform our energy system away from polluting fossil fuels.”
  • Favors “massive investment” in renewable power.
  • Introduced a bill for 10 million solar roofs in 10 years.
  • Supportive of ending all tax breaks for fossil fuel companies.
  • Says we must tackle climate change “if we are to make certain that this planet is habitable for our children and grandchildren.”
  • Strongly opposes Keystone XL.
  • Supports a ban on fracking and offshore oil drilling.
  • Strongly supports the CPP.

B+: Hillary Clinton:

  • Supports a goal of having at least 33% of the nation’s power generated by clean energy sources by 2027.
  • Interested in seeing “half a billion solar panels installed across the country” by 2021.
  • Strongly supports wind power and says we should “stop the giveaways to big oil companies and extend, instead, tax incentives for clean energy.”
  • Believes that “climate change is an urgent challenge that threatens all of us.”
  • Unclear what Clinton’s positions are on either Keystone XL or offshore oil drilling.
  • Supports fracking with “smart regulations” and enforcement.
  • Strongly supports the CPP, saying she’d be “a champion in the White House to defend it and implement it effectively.”

B: Chris Christie:

  • Stated that the “future for New Jersey is in green energy” and signed into law an acceleration of New Jersey’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) for solar.
  • Reportedly “wouldn’t repudiate the wind tax credit;” as Governor of New Jersey signed into law incentives for offshore wind.
  • Believes that “global warming is real” and that “human activity contributes to it.”
  • Supports Keystone XL and fracking, but opposed offshore oil drilling in NJ.
  • Does not appear to have set specific goals for clean energy scaling.

C: Lincoln Chafee:

  • Has not spoken much about clean energy and had a mixed record as Governor of Rhode Island on clean energy issues.
  • Has not taken a position on Keystone XL.
  • Voted to increase offshore oil drilling.
  • Supports the CPP.
  • Does not appear to have set specific goals for clean energy scaling.

C: George Pataki:

  • Says wind energy is “mature enough to flourish with no government support.”
  • Argues that the key to clean energy success is “driving the technology” via “the marketplace.”
  • Strongly supports natural gas fracking, arguing that gas could be “transformational” for the U.S. economy.
  • Says climate change is real and that it should be combated by the private sector.
  • Does not appear to have set specific goals for clean energy scaling, but has talked about renewables being the “energy of the future.”
  • Opposes government regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

C-: Jeb Bush:

  • Reportedly would favor renewing the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) for “at least a few more years” before phasing it out.
  • Did not promote solar power or push an RPS when he was Governor of Florida.
  • In 2006, endorsed a “national vision to produce 25% of the nation’s energy supply from renewable sources by 2025.”
  • Says we should not “pick winners and losers” and, therefore, we should get rid of all energy subsidies.
  • Has made varying comments on climate change.
  • Says Keystone XL construction is a “no brainer.”
  • Strongly supports fracking.
  • As Governor of Florida, opposed oil drilling off the state’s coasts.
  • Opposes the CPP, calling it “irresponsible and overreaching.”

C-: Ben Carson:

  • Has not spoken a great deal about energy issues.
  • Appears to favor getting rid of oil subsidies.
  • Said that with “appropriate incentives, I have no question that Americans, with all their ingenuity, can come up with new sources of clean energy in a relatively short period of time.”
  • Said that there’s “always going to be either cooling or warming going on,” but also that we “have an obligation and a responsibility to protect our environment.”
  • Supports Keystone XL and offshore oil drilling.
  • Does not appear to have set specific goals for clean energy scaling.
  • Unclear where he stands on the CPP.

C-: Rick Perry:

  • During his time as Governor of TX, wind power increased rapidly in the state, although there was no sign of similar leadership on solar power.
  • Said that the federal government needs to be “completely out of the energy business.”
  • Called climate science a “contrived phony mess” and has claimed that scientists “manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects.”
  • Says he would approve Keystone XL “on day one” if elected president.
  • Strongly supports fracking and offshore drilling.
  • Does not appear to have set specific goals for clean energy scaling.
  • Calls the CPP “the most direct assault yet on the energy providers that employ thousands of Americans.”

D: Lindsey Graham:

  • Voted to end the PTC.
  • Voted against removing oil and gas subsidies.
  • Has made contradictory, inconsistent remarks about climate change.
  • Supports Keystone XL, pushed for oil drilling off SC’s coast.
  • Does not appear to have set specific goals for clean energy scaling.
  • Opposes the CPP.

D: John Kasich:

  • Signed a bill freezing Ohio’s RPS.
  • Supported tax credits for Marathon Oil.
  • Says there’s a “problem with climate change” but doesn’t want to “overreact to it.”
  • Supports Keystone XL, signed a law opening up OH state parks and forests to fracking.
  • Does not appear to have set specific goals for clean energy scaling.

D: Jim Webb:

  • Has not spoken much about clean energy.
  • Opposed cap-and-trade legislation when he was in the U.S. Senate.
  • Voted for a bill that would have prevented the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.
  • Supports the Keystone XL pipeline and offshore oil drilling.
  • Spoke at a coal industry rally where he said “we are not going to let the EPA regulate coal out of business” and called the U.S. the “Saudi Arabia of coal.”
  • Has not set specific goals for clean energy scaling or commented on the CPP.

D-: Carly Fiorina:

  • Would eliminate the PTC by 2020 and called California’s Global Warming Solutions Act “undoubtedly a job killer.”
  • Argued that action on climate by “a single state or nation will make little difference.”
  • Strongly supports Keystone XL.
  • Opposes the CPP, promised in yesterday’s debate to undo “this latest round of EPA regulations.”
  • Does not appear to have set specific goals for clean energy scaling.

D-: Mike Huckabee:

  • Favors an “all of the above” energy strategy.
  • Has not stated clearly whether or not he supports the PTC.
  • Says climate science not “settled” and that ISIS is a greater threat than global warming.
  • Supports Keystone XL.
  • Said the CPP would “bankrupt families.”
  • Does not appear to have set specific goals for clean energy scaling.

D-: Rick Santorum:

  • Voted against extending the PTC.
  • Says all energy subsidies should be eliminated.
  • Calls global warming “not climate science but political science.”
  • Supports Keystone XL.
  • Has made mixed comments on fracking.
  • Said offshore oil drilling is “the best way to create a good economy and a safer Florida.”
  • Does not appear to have set specific goals for clean energy scaling.

F: Ted Cruz:

  • Voted to end wind power subsidies.
  • Sponsored the American Energy Renaissance Act, which would prevent government regulation of fracking, approve Keystone XL, increase oil drilling offshore and on public lands, remove barriers to exporting coal, etc.
  • Calls global warming “pseudoscientific theory.”
  • Opposes the CPP, calling it “flatly unconstitutional” and a “lawless and radical attempt to destabilize the nation’s energy system.”
  • Does not appear to have set specific goals for clean energy scaling.

F: Jim Gilmore:

  • Supports offshore oil drilling, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Said that the country’s “greatest resource in competition with the rest of the world is coal.”
  • Supports fossil fuel production of all kinds.
  • Uncertain on climate change.
  • Opposed the Kyoto Protocol.
  • Does not appear to have set specific goals for clean energy scaling.

F: Bobby Jindal:

  • Would phase out the PTC.
  • Signed legislation to end solar tax credits.
  • Louisiana heavily subsidizes the oil industry.
  • Supports “reversing the Obama administration’s efforts against climate change.”
  • Blamed “blind leftwing ideologues” for opposition to Keystone XL, which he strongly supports.
  • Supports fracking and offshore oil drilling.
  • Opposes the CPP. Does not appear to have set specific goals for clean energy scaling.

F: Rand Paul:

  • Voted to end the PTC.
  • Says government spending on solar power is wasteful.
  • Appears to oppose all energy subsidies.
  • Supports Keystone XL, oil and gas drilling “in every possible, conceivable place.”
  • Said the CPP is “illegal” and has vowed to repeal it.
  • Does not appear to have set specific goals for clean energy scaling.

F: Marco Rubio:

  • Argued that we can’t “windmill our way into the 21st century.”
  • Expressed some support for tax credits for renewable energy.
  • Voted to continue subsidizing the oil industry.
  • Opposes “wasting more taxpayer money on so-called ‘clean energy’ companies like Solyndra.”
  • Says the climate has always been changing.
  • Strongly supports Keystone XL and offshore oil drilling.
  • Says Americans will pay a “terrible price” for the CPP.
  • Does not appear to have set specific goals for clean energy scaling.

F: Donald Trump:

  • Fought wind turbines near his golf course in Ireland.
  • Claimed that solar power “hasn’t caught on because, I mean, a solar panel takes 32 years — it’s a 32-year payback. Who wants a 32-year payback? The fact is the technology is not there yet.”
  • Says he’s not ” a huge believer in the global warming phenomenon.”
  • Strongly supports Keystone XL and fracking.
  • Commented about tougher safety and environmental rules following the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, “I think it’s beyond anything I have ever seen, that we go slow on drilling.”
  • Does not appear to have set specific goals for clean energy scaling.

F: Scott Walker:

  • Supports phasing out the PTC.
  • Signed a budget that contained money to investigate supposed “health impacts of wind turbines.”
  • Dodged a question on climate change.
  • Strongly supports Keystone XL, fracking and offshore oil drilling.
  • Pledged to fight the CPP and has called it the “Costly Power Plan” because it will cost hard-working Americans jobs and raise their energy rates.
  • Does not appear to have set specific goals for clean energy scaling.

2015 CANDIDATE CLEANTECH GUIDE FOR THE RACE (2)

 

Update: infographic was updatedon August 10, 2015 from scalinggreen.org to scalinggreen.com and from 2015 to 2016.

Cleantech guide for the 2016 presidential race. What is their position on clean energy policy like the CPP and Keystone XL?

ScalingGreen is a project of the renewable energy public relations firm Tigercomm.

SHARE WITH FRIENDS:  
        
          
Top
TEST Menu