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Election 2008: Politics
Q&A: John McCain
Q&A: Barack Obama


1. How do you intend to put the United States again at the forefront of efforts to understand and address the world’s most serious environmental threat, global warming?
Global climate change is one of the most important issues facing our nation and the world today, and I have made it a priority throughout my career to address the problem. I pledge to work with Congress, local government leaders, and the full range of stakeholders to promote U.S. energy security and implement a national market-based, cap-and-trade system tailored to protect the nation’s economic, environmental, and national security.

2. How do you plan to ensure that biofuel production really provides substantial carbon benefits without adversely affecting water supplies, wildlife, and food prices?
New fuels must be evaluated on a life-cycle basis with well-established evaluation criteria. The development of reduced-carbon transportation fuels to replace petroleum must contribute to our efforts to reduce the emission of pollutants and greenhouse gases. Under a cap-and-trade system, fuels that fail this test, or are economically prohibitive, will neither succeed in the marketplace nor merit the support of the public purse.

3. What will you do to restore the independence and integrity of government science offices?
Regulatory decisions affecting the health, safety, and welfare of our families must be based on scientific facts and be rendered according to the dictates of the law without prejudice, ulterior motive, or inappropriate influence by any special interest. The solutions to our nation’s technological challenges will require the best and the brightest of our engineers and scientists. As president, I will ensure that key science and technological positions in the government are filled by those with the appropriate qualifications and experience.

4. Do you support the strongest possible protection for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?
I do not support drilling in the ANWR at this time. The question of imposing additional protections, such as a wilderness designation, should be considered in terms of the multiple uses for which the refuge has been set aside, whether the area meets the statutory definition for such a designation under the Wilderness Act, and consideration of the views of affected stakeholders, including the people of Alaska and their elected leaders.

5. How would you balance energy development and recreational uses, such as off-road vehicles, with the management needs of wildlife that depend on Bureau of Land Management habitat?
My political hero is and always has been Teddy Roosevelt, whose wisdom, vision, and commitment to conservation and the stewardship ethic have been a major influence on my personal and political philosophies. I am a supporter of multiple use public lands, but I am likewise a strong supporter of protecting pristine areas, which is why I worked very hard to enact two major wilderness bills for my home state of Arizona. With respect to areas that are not within the wilderness preservation system, I believe that the planning process with its appropriate standards and public procedures under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act is the best means of making wise resource management decisions.

6. The Bush administration authorized oil drilling in prime polar bear habitat in the Chukchi Sea, off the Alaska coast. Given that the polar bear is increasingly imperiled by global warming and the melting of sea ice, would you allow drilling in its habitat?
I am deeply concerned that our ocean and marine resources are coming under increasing pressure from climate change, overfishing, resource extraction, and other potentially harmful activities. Counterproductive activities that adversely affect the health and sustainability of maritime ecosystems must be addressed, while taking into consideration the needs of all interested parties. The issue of habitat loss in the Arctic due to climate change reinforces the global nature of the problem and the need for full international participation in any meaningful solution if we are to minimize climate-related habitat loss and protect our national security.

7. While the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPRA) may provide important oil and gas resources, there are also special areas, such as Teshekpuk Lake, that have been designated in recognition of nationally significant wildlife values. What steps would your administration take to protect these special areas within the NPRA?
In this time of high gas prices and an uncertain future in our energy supply, I believe that it is important to keep the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska available for use by the American people while preserving the integrity of some of the pristine and protected wilderness in the area.

8. The Department of Homeland Security is building a 700-mile border fence along the U.S.–Mexico border while routinely ignoring applicable environmental and public health laws. What is your position on the border fence?
The relentless human and vehicle traffic on our southern border is a national security and environmental crisis, destroying sensitive habitats and resulting in the dumping of tons of trash on our public lands. While I do not believe that the 700-mile border fence is the complete solution to our immigration problems, given the choice between doing nothing and fixing a portion of our border security problems, I chose to vote in favor of the fence. As president, I would encourage the Department of Homeland Security to work with the environmental community and local interests to ensure that border infrastructure reflects the sensitive needs and circumstances along the border, while also ensuring that our homeland security is one of our nation’s top priorities.

9. Eagles are rebounding from the brink of extinction, but many other birds continue to experience serious declines. Audubon data shows even bird species we consider common today are losing ground, falling as much as 68 percent in the past 40 years. How would you use laws like the Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and Clean Water Act to reverse this trend?
As president, I would support reforms that maintain strong and responsible protection for threatened and endangered species and promote species recovery while bringing greater levels of cooperation, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness to the effort. We must ensure we have effective policies and international agreements in place that maintain the spirit of laws like the Migratory Bird Treaty Act while affording private landowners their rights. Wetlands are a vital component of our natural aquatic ecosystems and should be recognized as such. I will work to develop a wetlands policy that provides necessary protection of our aquatic resources, builds strong and lasting partnerships, and respects local conditions and needs.

10. Besides global warming, what would you like your greatest contribution to the environment to be?
There are several distinct priorities, outside of energy and global warming, that will be areas of emphasis in my administration, including improving management of the nation’s wetlands, fisheries, and ocean ecosystems; improving the care and maintenance of our national parks; instituting executive policies and procedures to ensure that policy and rule-making in my administration is based on merit, public interest, sound science, cost-benefit, and the faithful execution of the law; improving efforts to provide the clean water that Americans need and deserve; and submitting a budget that reflects responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars and the environment, and eliminates pork-barrel spending.

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