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February 2008 - [Sustainable Concepts] Presidential Candidates and Green Issues
Sustainable Concepts )
Design Forward Newsletter February 2008, vol. 59
in this issue
  • How Green are the 2008 Presidential Candidates?
  • China bans free plastic bags
  • Feedback


    Welcome to the February 2008 newsletter from Design Forward. Please take some time to enjoy this month's features.

    Quote of the Month: "The other day the oil companies reported the highest profits in the history of the world. I want to take those profits and I want to put them into a strategic energy fund that will begin to find alternative smart energy, alternatives and technologies that will begin to actually move us toward the direction of independence!"
    -Hillary Clinton

    Lisa A. Swan

    How Green are the 2008 Presidential Candidates?

    With the field narrowing down to just a few candidates for President, how do they stand up on green and environmental issues?

    According to a recent Environment News Service (ENS) article, Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have addressed green issues including carbon cap and trade systems, renewable energy, and biofuels much more frequently. While, Republicans John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee have said comparatively little about climate change or clean energy during their debates or on the stump so far. Promoting clean energy for them is often in the context of energy independence and national security.

    A scorecard by author Terry Tamminen, has given Senator Clinton and Senator Obama both a "B", while John McCain, along with the other Republicans, all received a "F" for their views and voting records. The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) complies a National Environmental Scorecard, the latest for the year 2006. Their report states that Obama received a perfect score, Clinton received a 71 percent, and McCain scored just 29 percent.

    Despite Obama's stellar environmental voting record, he supports clean coal and nuclear technologies that are important to the economy of his home state of Illinois, but that some environmentalists find objectionable.

    In January of 2007, Obama co-sponsored the Coal-to-Liquid Fuel Promotion Act of 2007, which would provide funding to companies that convert coal to liquid diesel fuel. After taking heat on the bill, several months later Obama backtracked, saying he would only support clean coal initiatives that would reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent as compared with conventional fuels.

    He has also supported incentives for nuclear energy. He voted for the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which, along with some funding for renewables, gave tax breaks to companies for expanding nuclear power.

    Clinton has not authored any significant legislation concerning climate change or renewable energy. She has voted against funding coal to liquids technologies as well as the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that provided incentives for the nuclear industry. In 2007, she voted to expand offshore oil drilling.

    McCain began sponsoring legislation to address climate change in 2003, before it became a popular subject in the Senate. The McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act of 2003 was revised and presented to the Senate again in 2005, but failed to pass. It provides for a cap on U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases and a trading system for emissions permits.

    Like Clinton, McCain voted to expand offshore drilling, but unlike his two peers, he was not present to vote for the landmark 2007 energy bill that raised vehicle fuel economy standards.

    A good rule of thumb to use if there is a gap between what the candidates are saying during the primary season and what their political philosophy has traditionally been, believe their historical views.

    Article Reference: Environment News Service (ENS), Will Candidates' Green Talk Lead to Presidential Action? by John Gartner

    China bans free plastic bags

    China is banning free plastic bags common at shops and supermarkets and ordering customers to be charged for any they use, the government said Wednesday, January 9, 2008.

    Shoppers in Beijing and other Chinese cities will have to pay for using plastic bags, starting in June.

    The rules, which take effect June 1, come as the country tries to tackle a significant source of litter, a statement on the government's Web site said.

    The bags also are banned from all public transportation, including buses, trains and planes and from airports and scenic locations, the government said.

    Companies caught breaking the new rules face fines and possible forfeiture of goods, the government said.

    Shops have been instructed to mark the price of the plastic bags clearly and not fold them into the cost of other items.

    Environmental organizations, including Greenpeace, praised China's move, and Christopher Flavin, president of Worldwatch Institute, an independent research organization in Washington, said "China is ahead of the U.S. with this policy," AP reported.

    The Chinese use up to 3 billion plastic shopping bags a day.

    Article CNN


    Design Forward works toward promoting Sustainable Design. If you know of a project that should be featured, please contact us. Let us know why you think it should be featured and give us a basic intro to the project, the sustainable elements and any websites or contact information.

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