10 questions for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on energy and climate change

We have now been through four debates in this election cycle — three for president and one for vice president — and there has not been a single question posed to any candidate on energy and climate change.

At Preserve the Beartooth Front, we believe that this is the key issue facing the United States over the next 20-30 years. It is central not only to energy policy, but to economic development, national security, immigration, infrastructure, and much more.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during the presidential debate with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (Rick T. Wilking/Pool via AP)

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks during the presidential debate with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (Rick T. Wilking/Pool via AP)

It is deeply concerning that these issues have not taken center stage in the campaign. Failure to debate them publicly lessens our chances of coming to consensus about a course of action that will enable the US to become an effective leader in reducing the impacts of climate change, and to transform our economy to take advantage of the dramatic shifts in energy technology that will occur in the coming decades.

We have tracked the candidates’ positions on energy and climate change for over a year, and have many questions we would pose to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump if we had the chance. Here are ten. Please feel free to contribute your own in comments.

  1. What is the role of science in developing energy and climate policy? How will you reconcile the gap between climate science and the public’s perception (and Congress’) of that science?
  2. What specific policies, e.g. carbon tax, incentives for adoption of efficient energy technology, stimulus, would you propose to accelerate the adoption of clean energy technologies?
  3. What is the role of fracking in the transition of US energy policy to clean energy?
  4. What is an achievable timeline for the transition of US energy utilization from fossil fuels to clean energy? How does this apply specifically to coal, natural gas, and oil?
  5. How will you ensure US compliance with the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015? Is compliance with this agreement sufficient to avert the negative impacts of climate change?
  6. Science has shown that fracking has disproportionately negative environmental and community health impacts on the communities in which it takes place. What rights should local communities have to regulate fracking?
  7. For Hillary Clinton: You have proposed aggressive targets for adoption of solar, wind and other technologies, yet have not made this an issue in the campaign and have proposed no plan for action on this in your first year in office. Is this a serious goal, and, if so, how do you plan to achieve it?
  8. For Donald Trump: You have previously stated that climate change was “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Please state whether you believe that
    1. Global temperature rise is occurring?
    2. If it is occurring, to what extent is it manmade?
    3. If it is manmade, what is the role of government in developing policies to address it?
  9. Describe your vision for energy use in the US in 2030. How will transportation, home energy use, and infrastructure be different from today?
  10. Your grandchildren will likely be alive in the year 2100. Science tells us that if we do not act quickly, climate change will cause major impacts in their lifetimes in sea level rise, drought, food and water availability, and more. Have you given any thought to what you will tell them about your role in keeping that from happening?

About davidjkatz

The Moses family has lived on the Stillwater River since 1974, when George and Lucile Moses retired and moved to the Beehive from the Twin Cities. They’re gone now, but their four daughters (pictured at left, on the Beehive) and their families continue to spend time there, and have grown to love the area. This blog started as an email chain to keep the family informed about the threat of increased fracking activity in the area, but the desire to inform and get involved led to the creation of this blog.
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5 Responses to 10 questions for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on energy and climate change

  1. Bob Kiesling says:

    Good list. It should be utilized in all the congressional races as well.

  2. Philip Witmer says:

    I am deeply disappointed that climate change has played such a minor role in this election.

  3. Dennis Hoyem says:

    Great questions, David.
    It is my understanding from listening to a scientist (geologist?) being interviewed in the movie “Gasland 2”, that natural gas that is wasted via flaring and inevitable leaks from completed gas wells collectively contribute today even more to atmospheric CO2 emmissions than coal burning in recent years. Industries well-cementing technology today apparently does not adequately protect against these massive gas leakages and ground water contamination. I wonder if the candidates or anyone with their campaigns are even aware of this problem let alone have an opinion or position on it. Sad.

    • davidjkatz says:

      In the early days of the boom, fracking was seen as a “bridge” to clean energy. As you say, the idea was that plentiful natural gas would replace coal. The much cleaner burn would reduce carbon emissions. What we’ve found out in the meantime is that methane emissions from fracking wipe out those benefits, and that, given current technology, fracking is not a bridge at all.

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