It is becoming ever clearer that the 2016 Presidential election will determine the outcome of the US climate debate for at least the next four years rather than any scientific discussion. And except for a minor question mark concerning the faint possibility of a Sanders nomination, the 2016 election contest is coming down to Clinton versus Trump. So this post will outline the curious state of the climate debate in the Presidential election campaign.
Trump Has Been Clear and Consistent on Climate
Trump has been clear and consistent that he does not support climate alarmism or Obama Administration efforts to reduce CO2 emissions through regulations on power plant emissions and various other regulations that would accomplish the same goal indirectly by increasing the cost of using coal. He has not been as explicit as to what exactly he would do as Senator Cruz has been (Cruz promised to repeal the EPA CO2 power plant regulations on his first day in office), but it is clear that Trump is not a fan of EPA or its regulations. Both sides (skeptic and alarmist) appear to support this characterization of Trump’s views. In comments he has made since the Indiana primary results he has repeatedly promised to put coal miners back to work.
Clinton Has Made a Sudden Improbable Change
On March 13 Clinton stated before a liberal audience that “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of work.” This week she embarked on a curious campaign trip to West Virginia. West Virginia has long been a Democratic Party state, but has recently undergone a major shift to Republicans as a result of the Obama Administration’s climate policies.
Her trip inevitably led to a question concerning her views on coal, which caused her to say that she had really meant to say that she wanted to prevent the loss of coal industry jobs. “It was a misstatement because what I was saying is that the way things are going now, we will continue to lose jobs. That’s what I meant to say,” Clinton said. “I didn’t mean that we were going to do it. What I said was that is going to happen unless we take action to try to help and prevent it.”
This new formulation of her position is curious because there can be little doubt that she favors the current EPA power plant CO2 regulations; in fact, she has long insisted that they should be even more draconian. And there can be no doubt that these regulations are intended to reduce the use of coal in the US since that is their main purpose. So how can she now claim that she is just looking out for the miners and did not mean that it was she who was going to put miners out of work if elected? Surely one of the major factors affecting coal mining is the EPA regulations. On the same trip she also said that we must use what she calls “clean energy.”
So Trump’s views appear to be clear while Clinton’s are now muddy at best and contradictory to her general views on climate as well as her March 13 statement. Is it possible that Clinton actually believes that she can get votes from both climate alarmists and out-of-work coal miners by advocating different policies when speaking to different groups when everything she says is instantly available to everyone interested?