On Tuesday, October 4th the vice presidential candidates will come together to debate the issues. Former Virginia Governor, Democratic Senator Tim Kaine will go up against former member of the House of Representatives, Republican governor of Indiana, Mike Pence. There is a stark contrast between the two hopefuls, particularly when it comes to climate and energy issues. Although few expect climate change to be much of a hot topic at tonight’s debate, the issue of energy is almost certainly going to come up.
Here are the two vice presidential contenders views on a range of climate and energy issues.
Climate Change and Science
Pence has a long history of denying the science of climate change dating back to at least 2001 at which time he said the Earth was “actually cooler than it was 50 years ago“ and that global warming was a “myth.” In a 2014 interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, Pence said that he didn’t think the science of climate change was “resolved,” backing up his claim with the fact that his state of Indiana had a “tough winter” that year. Like all good Republicans Pense has espoused a raft of anti-science positions including support for teaching creationism in schools. However, since becoming the VP candidate on the Republican ticket has qualified his position saying to CNN: “Well, look, there’s no question that the activities that take place in this country and in countries around the world have some impact on the environment and some impact on climate.”
Kaine accepts the science of climate change and on the campaign trail Kaine chided his Republican opponent asking, “Do you believe in climate science or don’t you?” In 2014, as a U.S. Sen. Kaine joined more than 25 members of the Senate Climate Action Task Force for a rare all-night session to call attention to the effects of climate change. In his remarks, Kaine discussed the urgent need for Congress to act on curbing emissions and investing in innovative and clean energy solutions. Kaine supports strong action on climate change, decrying both climate change deniers and what he has termed “leadership deniers,” politicians who believe in climate change but don’t believe the U.S. should take a leadership role in reducing the world’s carbon footprint. “They say look, even if we reduce U.S. emission to zero, it wouldn’t offset world emissions unless China or India did something, and so let’s just not do anything,” Kaine said. “That is just not the American way, folks, for us not to lead on something important like that.” By focusing on regional vulnerability and on national security — Kaine has made some significant bipartisan progress on the issue of climate change. Kaine has paid particular attention to how it is affecting his constituents in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, which faces some of the largest rates of sea level rise in the country. Given that his state is home to Naval Station Norfolk, the largest naval complex in the world, Kaine also emphasizes that climate change and related sea level rise is a national security threat. Kaine has been at the forefront of bipartisan efforts to combat sea level rise in Virginia. He brought together his congressional colleagues (including two Republicans) to hear a briefing from the Corps of Engineers and the Navy. He also sent letters to federal agencies seeking support for sea level resilience planning efforts in the region. The Natural Resources Defense Council called Kaine an environmental champion with an “impressive” record. The League of Conservation Voters Action Fund declared, “Awesome choice, Hillary! We’re thrilled.” Several other groups, including NextGen Climate and Environment America, chimed in with their support, too.
Environmental Voting Record
Pence voted against nearly every piece of environmental legislation during his 12 years in Congress, earning a lifetime score of 4 percent by the League of Conservation Voters (LCV). Pence has continued to use his platform as governor to speak out against any kind of climate legislation.
Kaine is an avid outdoorsman and conservationist and he gets a 91 percent lifetime score from the LCV for his work in the Senate.
Pence is a stalwart advocate of increasing domestic extraction of fossil fuels including coal. He has said that a Trump administration will “end the war on coal.” Indiana is the nation’s eighth largest coal producer. Pence gets significant funding from the fossil fuel industry. As reported by Grist, in his 2012 gubernatorial campaign, Pence received at least $850,000 from the energy sector, including $95,000 from coal magnate Robert Murray and $300,00 from David Koch. Although interestingly his inclusion on the GOP ticket has failed to secure support from the Koch brothers. As they have said long before Donald Trump became the Republican nominee. http://www.thegreenmarketoracle.com/2016/07/trumps-pick-for-vp-fails-to-secure.html Both in the House and as governor, Pence repeatedly vocalized his support for the Keystone XL pipeline, support for the dead pipeline project continues to this day. One of the most perplexing positions involves his support for more offshore drilling in the wake of the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Kaine was an early opponent of the Keystone XL Pipeline, coming out against it in 2013. However, during his tenure as governor, Kaine’s administration approved plans for the Wise County coal plant, a 668-megawatt plant in southwest Virginia, one of the last coal plants built in the country. As far as coal plants go this is one of the cleanest in the world. It is subject to some of the strictest controls for mercury and sulfur dioxide in the country. The original plans for the plant would have allowed 72 pounds of mercury to be emitted per year and the final deal set a limit of 4.45 pounds per year, a 94 percent reduction. The facility also uses Virginia coal and waste coal, which is discarded by mining operations and might otherwise be left behind to pollute waterways. The plant also co-fires biomass. Kaine has also been in favor of offshore drilling in the Atlantic (although that changed after he joined the Clinton ticket), fast-tracking natural gas export terminals and fracking.
Clean Power Plan
Pence has vowed to override the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan if he and Trump win the election. His support for fossil fuels on the national stage reflect his actions in his home state of Indiana. Pence is one of 29 governors currently fighting the Plan in court. Pence says that no matter what the outcome Indiana simply won’t submit a plan to reduce emissions. While in Congress Pence voted in favor of opening the Atlantic to offshore oil drilling. In a 2014 op-ed blasting the Clean Power Plan, he wrote that he would “continue to fight against any regulation from Washington that makes it more difficult for Indiana to continue to be the state that works.”
Kaine supports the Clean Power Plan and introduced a budget amendment to help the Department of Defense prepare for climate change.
Pence overturned energy efficiency measures imposed by his Republican predecessor despite that fact that the Indiana Public Utility Commission estimated the program would create more than 18,600 jobs.
Kaine created the first-ever climate change commission in Virginia that made recommendations in support of energy efficiency.
Pence consistently voted against climate legislation and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during his time in the House. He also voted to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gasses, As governor of Indiana his state ranked second among all states for industrial greenhouse gas emissions.
Kaine has indicated that he supports cutting greenhouse gas emissions. As governor or Virginia, he instituted the first-ever climate change commission in that state to bring together environmentalists and power companies to chart a way forward on cutting greenhouse gas levels.
Kaine endorsed the goal of transitioning the U.S. to 25 percent renewable energy by 2025. The first-ever climate change commission that Kaine instituted in Virginia made recommendations in support of renewable power.
Pence is a champion of the slogan, “just says no to renewables.”