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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?
I will start by implementing a cap-and-trade system in the United States to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The legislation that I push will require a 100 percent auction of carbon allowances to ensure that all polluters pay for their emissions.  

In terms of restoring American international leadership on global climate change, I was the first presidential candidate to call for creating a standing Global Energy Forum—a body which will include the world’s top emitters from the developed and developing world. I will also re-engage the U.S. with the post-Kyoto international climate negotiations.

2. How do you plan to ensure that biofuel production really provides substantial carbon benefits without adversely affecting water supplies, wildlife, and food prices?
I strongly support efforts to commercialize next-generation advanced biofuels that do not put pressure on our food prices and consume fewer resources during their production cycle. I am the only candidate to have a goal of phasing in 2 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol by 2013. I also introduced legislation to create a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard. This proposal includes an environmental sustainability study to ensure that our ramped-up fuel production does not adversely affect other environmental priorities.  

3. What will you do to restore the independence and integrity of government science offices?
I will appoint officials that are qualified to do their jobs and aren’t going to represent big industry rather than the American people while serving in my administration. I am committed to ensuring that my cabinet and all of my appointees honor the primacy of sound science in regulatory and policy decision making. I will keep political ideology out of scientific decisions in the executive branch, and I will make clear to all of my agencies that I am committed to that principle. If my appointees do not abide by these guidelines, they will be removed from their positions.

4. Do you support the strongest possible protection for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?
Yes. I am a proud cosponsor of the Arctic Wilderness Act.

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? 
I will restore scientific integrity and the public interest to the management of federal lands. Unfortunately, after seven years that balance has been shifted to favor the special interests and not preserving the federal government’s historic legacy of protecting and strengthening our natural resources. As president, I will take steps to engage the American people into this important decision-making process so that we can establish the best long-term goals for our national conservation strategy. 

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?
No. I support the efforts of Senator John Kerry and my other colleagues in the Senate to prohibit drilling in the Chukchi Sea.  

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?
I do not support drilling in Teshekpuk Lake. I will seek national monument designation for Teshekpuk Lake.

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?
I will support additional fence building where it can discourage illegal entry and when it is constructed in coordination and cooperation with local communities and respecting environmental laws. I also support using more patrols and better technology to deter illegal entry.    

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? 
I support strengthening the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and other environmental laws that have been weakened by the Bush administration. My EPA will ensure that rule-making upholds scientific principles and the law, not corporate and ideological interests. I will also work with Congress and scientists to determine other legislative or regulatory steps that may be needed to protect our wildlife.

10. Besides global warming, what would you like your greatest contribution to the environment to be?
I believe that our top environmental priority, after addressing climate change, is restoring the strength of the EPA to adequately enforce our clean air, clean water, and other environmental protection laws. After over seven years of ruling by ideology rather than science and adherence to the law, we need to dramatically reinvigorate the EPA and the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and strengthen environmental laws, so the poor record of the past six years won’t be repeated. As president, I will take immediate steps to ensure that science, not political ideology, governs our environmental policy decisions.

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