Friday, February 01, 2008

The Candidates Policy Positions on Science, Technology & the Environment

Climate Change and Energy Policy
All three candidates agree that global warming is a serious issue and immediate steps need to be taken to combat it. All are for caps and trades, raising fuel economy standards, biofuels, and clean coal. They only differ with regards to nuclear power, where Hillary is neutral about its use.
John McCain
  • Equates environmentalism with National Security.
  • Supports a cap-and-trade system; capping emissions from utilities, industry, and transport at 2004 levels by 2012 and then gradually decrease emissions to about 30% of 2004 levels by 2050.
  • Support fuel economy standards, but has not outlined specific goals.
  • Supports renewables, but has not offered a specific target.
  • Supports increased use of biofuels, but opposes subsidies for ethanol.
  • Supports use of coal, and wants to find cleaner ways to use it.
  • Significant support for nuclear power.
Hillary Clinton
  • Cap and trade system for carbon emissions.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.
  • Stronger energy and auto efficiency standards, specifically increasing fuel efficiency standards to 55 miles per gallon by 2030.
  • Calls for getting 25% of U.S. electricity from renewables by 2025.
  • Significant increase in green research funding.
  • Supports clean coal.
  • Is agnostic on nuclear power.
Barack Obama
  • Implement an economy-wide cap-and-trade auction program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050.
  • Wants to establish strong annual reduction targets, with a mandate of reducing emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.
  • Would invest some of the revenue generated from the cap-and-trade in; advanced biofuels, plug-in hybrids, low emissions coal plants, and begin transition to a new digital electricity grid.
  • Supports expansion of biofuels.
  • Supports clean coal technology.
  • Supports Nuclear Energy.
  • Clean Technologies Deployment Venture Capital Fund, modeled after the Central Intelligence Agency In-Q-Tel program to partner with existing investment funds and our National Laboratories to ensure that promising technologies move beyond the lab and are commercialized in the U.S.
  • Require 25 Percent of Electricity to Come from Renewable Sources by 2025.
  • Improving energy efficiency.

Federal Funding of Basic Science Research
McCains science policy is ill-defined at this point, while the two democratic candidates pretty much agree on everything. A minor difference is that Obama would scale back on NASA's maned missions and divert the savings to other priorities, while McCain would maintain the president's current emphasis on space exploration.
John McCain's web site is pretty much devoid of any discussion on the federal funding of science research. Other than on climates issues and NASA, science policy is far down on his list of priorities. However, he did vote for the 2007 America COMPETES Act (H.R.2272), which supported greatly increased funding for the NSF, DOE Office of Science and other federal research agencies as well as increased support for math and science education at all levels. He did vote to expand funding for embryonic stem cell research.
Hillary Clinton has a whole Web page devoted to her Innovation Agenda, where she describes her road map for moving U.S. science and technology into the 21st century.
  • Establish a $50-billion R&D Fund for Green Energy.
  • Increase the basic research budgets 50 percent over 10 years at NSF, the DOE's Office of Science, and the DoD.
  • Increase the NIH budget by 50 percent over 5 years and aim to double it over 10 years.
  • Establish a National Energy Council for Climate and GreenTech research.
  • Re-establish NASA's mission to study the earth.
Barack Obama has his own Web page devoted exclusively to technology issues. His technology agenda is almost identical to Clinton's, but contains significantly more detail. Increasing federal science funding and education are top priorities.
  • Double federal funding on basic research
  • Proposes investing $150 billion over 10 years in R&D for renewables, biofuels, efficiency, and other clean tech.
  • Delay NASA's return to the Moon and Mars projects to help fund his priorities.
All three candidates support expanding the H-1B visa quotas and making the the R&D tax credit permanent.
Barack Obama would go further by
  • making it easier for foreign talent to live, work, and even attain permanent citizenship in the U.S.
  • Deploy next-generation broadband.
  • Protect intellectual property at home and abroad.
  • Reform the patent system.
Science and Math Education
Both Clinton and Obama plan to increase spending on education, especially in math and science.
John McCain doesn't talk much about the need to focus on science and math curriculum. His Web site, which implies that school choice is his weapon of choice for creating a more competitive workforce. He has a history of waffling on the issue of teaching evolution in school.

Looking for a Tech-Savvy President; HPC Wire

Science, 4 January 2008.

Campaign 2008: Where do they stand on Science; Physics Today


K T Cat said...

Great post! Thanks for the effort of puting this up. I'll link to it shortly.

K T Cat said...

I thought you'd enjoy this post. The money quote at the end:

"So, in summary: Obama is a (potential) liberal Reagan who can get things done; he has (or seems to have) the judgment, character and leadership that a president needs; and he can win, and do so without putting the country through another ridiculously bitter election battle in the process. I think those are three pretty good reasons to vote for him."

Kelly the dog said...

He has an interesting argument. I'd pretty much come to believe his first two points. I keep reading that Obama is actually the more conservative of the two Democrats when it comes to fiscal policy.