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Thu Oct 15, 2015, 11:47 PM

Energy Policy 2016: Democratic Candidates Differ On Energy Priorities

Energy Policy 2016: Democratic Candidates Differ On Energy Priorities
by R. Kress | October 14, 2015

The first Democratic debate for the 2016 presidential campaign revealed two things. First, for many of the Democrats, energy is one of their top policy priorities for this campaign season. Second, while Republican candidates have generally walked the same line on policy positions, the Democratic candidates have substantial differences in their views for how to address the country’s energy challenges.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was the first to address energy issues. Among his top policy priorities came an adamant plea to change the nation’s energy future: “We have a moral responsibility to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy and leave this planet a habitable planet for our children and our grandchildren.”

In this moment, Sanders’ remarks set the tone for many of his arguments throughout the night, as he advocated for radical changes in energy on moral grounds.

The only other candidate to discuss energy policy in her introductory remarks was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. However, in contrast to Sanders’ moral argument, Clinton approached her energy plan from a perspective of how to leverage clean technology and innovation to create jobs: “I’ve put forward specific plans about how we’re going to create more good-paying jobs: By investing in infrastructure and clean energy, by making it possible once again to invest in science and research, and taking the opportunity posed by climate change to grow our economy.”

From this standpoint, Clinton laid out an energy policy that views crisis as opportunity in dealing with pressing issues such as the labor market and economic growth.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley...

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