American Automobile Fuel Consumption Debate


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Kerry's detailed Environment plan does not say that he supports Kyoto. I don't think that he supported the vote on Kyoto in the senate either. What he says instead is this:

The Kerry Administration will come to the international table with a serious domestic climate change program in hand, thereby ensuring that American interests have a strong voice as the global community works toward developing a sensible and fair program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in both the developed and developing world.

John Kerry’s plan recognizes that we must take immediate action to halt and reverse the
growth in greenhouse gas emissions and reduce our carbon footprint while the economy

Kerry’s plan calls for all major sources of greenhouse gas emissions to participate in a cap
and trade emissions reduction program for CO2 and other greenhouse gases (not just utilities,
as some have suggested), so that the power of the marketplace can be directed to encourage
that the most cost-effective reductions be made, whether at coal-fired utilities or from
automobile tailpipes.

It seemed to me from the debate around the McCain-Lieberman bill that any future US action on climate change may be some form of that bill. In fact, Holy Joe has promised to bring the revised bill up for discussion soon.


The NYT finally wakes up to the fact that it should discuss some of the differences between Kerry and Bush on issues such as Energy Policy.


The Democrats are going to lose this election, and this NY Times article is a perfect demonstration why. They are spliting hairs on issues. I've already pointed out that Kerry's energy plan is really just Bush-lite. There is only one view suggested in the article that REALLY distinguishes Kerry from Bush, and it is the $5bil for "efficient" cars. The Times correctly states Kerry strategies are to "crank up the subsidy machine," which to me translates to "give money to special interest." Detroit is either 1) idiotic for not stepping into a market that has a 12-month wait list for its products or 2) idling on purpose in hopes of a $5bil windfall for something they would have done anyways. Either way, I don't see this as a big campaign winner for Kerry.

Clean coal, renewable subsidies, ethanol support... the Times suggest Kerry say he, like Bush, supports these, but say his support is better.

Sound familiar?

This (hair-spliting) is not the way elections are won and contributes to Kerry vulnerability to the "flip-flop" attack (i.e. Bush is bad, but I agree with Bush). I would love to have someone explain the Democratic strategy that played out over this summer.



Last week, Salon published a set of three articles about climate change. All three are worth a glance (although you might have to watch an ad first) but the second two are relevant to this discussion. The first is a story about how the Artic is warming (Baked Alaska); the second is about Bush's policies (Bush: Global warming is just hot air); and the third is about Kerry's proposed policies (Getting warmer).

The two policy articles go a little bit deeper than the Times article but come to essentially the same conclusion. In fact, the subtitle of the Kerry article is "Environmentalists give John Kerry high marks for his views on global warming -- yet they admit that the Democratic candidate is making too nice with the coal industry."

Addressing Mike's strategy question, Robert Kennedy Jr. offers this anecdote from the Gore campaign:

"During the Gore campaign, people were complaining that he wasn't talking about the environment. But I talked to the Gore campaign and they said, 'We're talking ourselves blue in the face about it. It has no traction in the press.' They want to cover the political battle -- the red states vs. the blue states. And if you look, that's what they're covering now."

I don't know if that is the truth but it is one explanation.

Both articles are a little harder on carbon sequestration than the Times but the technology is mentioned by name which has got to count for something.

The difference I see between the Bush and Kerry positions is that Bush's proposals push decisions into the future. Fuel cell cars and carbon sequestration are 20 years away (at a minimum), Bush can say he is doing something about the problem without really doing something about the problem. Yes, it is important to invest in fuel cell and carbon sequestration research but more has to be done in the short term. I believe Kerry will do things in the short term - I believe he will be in favor of increasing the CAFE standard, pushing for increased rollout of hybrid cars, and increased investment in wind and solar power. He will probably continue to fund fuel cell and carbon sequestration research - two things that should be funded because they are two more potential technologies to address a huge and expensive problem.

I think if you look at Anup's first post, Kerry is trying to emphasize the need for short-term actions (although he is short on details) – I think that is where his ideas differ from Bush’s. However, he has wrapped energy issues in energy security and not in environmental concerns. While there are strong security arguments and strong environmental arguments for changing our energy portfolio, Kerry's record emphasizes the environment. I don't know why the climate change focus has dropped, it weakens the overall position.


I'm not trying to critique Kerry's energy policy (in this particular post). I understand your point on climate change, and I do understand the differences between Kerry and Bush.

What I'm trying to say is that none of it is SUBSTANTIALLY DIFFERENT from Bush. It's just like you said, they are both for the same things, but Kerry splits hairs by saying he wants action sooner. And, yes, I've been to Holdren's class and I understand that this is a critical, time-sensitive issue. But trying exploit this (as viewed by the public) nuinanced difference does not win elections.

Perhaps, the Republican strategy team is brilliant in the fact that they've positioned themselves as "for" every issue the Democratics would like to exploit, I don't know. What I'm saying is if Kerry wants to win, he has to drop the Bush Light policy stances.

(PS. Perhaps we should have a "tech politics" week. I am finding the race for the White House fascinating.)


Here is a comparison of Bush-Cheney Vs Kerry-Edwards Energy plan, as stated on the Kerry web page.
Even though, Kerry-Edwards are substantially different that Bush-Cheney on topics such as energy, I will concede that they have not been able to portray the contrast vividly. Unfortunately, this is a topic where details matter. Of course, if you looked at the record, Kerry has been consistantly on the side of pushing energy efficiency, developing renewables, stopping ANWR drilling. In any case, I doubt that this is the issue over which this election will be won or lost, although I wish that things were that way!


I am not sure I was answering or raising questions in my last post - the content was primarily a bunch of stuff that was rattling through my head for a few days after reading the Salon articles. Climate change policy is important to me and I think Kerry wins that battle easily. But I agree with Anup, I do not think that battle is important to the public. I do not think that battle is going to decide the election.

Going to energy policy and trying to stay away from the environment (or trying), I think the main difference between Kerry and Bush is a perception of action. This is the paragraph in the Times article that captures it:

President Bush can fairly claim to have endorsed most of these ideas. But Mr. Kerry is offering more muscular programs and, if words mean anything, a more robust commitment to seeing them through. Mr. Bush's tax incentives are too small to make much difference to the automakers or to consumers. His clean coal program has been slow off the mark. And while he has expanded research into hydrogen-powered cars - a potentially useful technology that Mr. Kerry also endorses - Mr. Bush has used hydrogen's long-term promise as an excuse to let Detroit off the hook now.

When you look at the details (with all due respect to the Kerry differences page Anup points out), I agree, Bush says he is going to do many of the things Kerry says he is going to do. I think the difference is action. I think Kerry will do more to address energy independence and climate change (I could not hold it back for the entire post) and he will do it sooner. I do not know how you turn that into a campaign slogan.

I’m going to make a post on the main page about the CAFE standard, maybe we can continue this discussion there.


if kerry is the answer it must have been a stupid question


To late for this post... Bush won again, he needs to get kicked out of office.

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