Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hillary Clinton Lays Out Climate Change Plan

Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday toured a Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority station with Elizabeth Presutti, general manager, and Keith Welch, building superintendent. (Credit: Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press) Click to Enlarge.
Setting ambitious goals for producing energy from the sun, wind and other renewable sources, Hillary Rodham Clinton seized on an issue Monday that increasingly resonates with Democratic voters and sets up a stark contrast with the Republican presidential field.

With many Republican candidates saying they do not believe that climate change is a threat or requires government intervention, Mrs. Clinton assailed their logic, saying, “The reality of climate change is unforgiving no matter what the deniers say.”

She set a goal to produce 33 percent of the nation’s electricity from renewable sources by 2027, up from 7 percent today — a higher goal than the 20 percent that President Obama has called for by 2030.

Mrs. Clinton’s strategists see climate change as a winning issue for 2016.  They believe it is a cause she can advance to win over deep-pocketed donors and liberal activists in the nominating campaign, where she is facing Democratic challengers to her left on the issue.  It is also one that can be a weapon against Republicans in a general election.   Polls show that a majority of voters support candidates who pledge policy action on the warming climate.

Mrs. Clinton called for installing a half-billion solar panels by 2020, a sevenfold increase from today, and to generate enough energy from carbon-free sources within 10 years of her inauguration to power every home in America.

Republicans criticized the proposal as an “energy poverty” agenda that could raise utility bills and lead to blackouts.  Policy analysts said it could be tough for Mrs. Clinton to follow through on such ambitious goals.

While Mr. Obama’s climate change goals, driven by regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, would lift the nation’s renewable power to about 20 to 25 percent, according to E.P.A. estimates, the rest of the increase, experts said, will be impossible without new laws requiring renewable power.  Congress has failed over the past decade to pass such laws.

The Clinton campaign emphasized that her targets cleared a bar set last week by the billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, who spent $74 million on political races in 2014.  He announced that for candidates to receive his support in 2016, they must offer policies that would lead the nation to generate half its electricity from clean sources by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050.

Former Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, who has made climate change the center of his Democratic presidential campaign, laid out a plan last month that meets the criteria, winning Mr. Steyer’s blessing.  Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who has called for a tax on carbon emissions, draws thunderous applause at rallies by promising bold action to combat climate change.

Although Mrs. Clinton has emphasized fighting global warming as a priority in earlier speeches, the role of a single large donor, Mr. Steyer, in apparently influencing the details of her proposal was suggested by her press secretary, Brian Fallon.  On Twitter he said, “Counting nuclear, as Steyer does, she exceeds his 50 percent goal” for 2030.

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