With the release of Clinton's plan, all three Democratic front runners for the presidency now have visionary, far-reaching energy plans that would fundamentally reorient the country away from carbon-intensive energy and toward energy efficiency and renewables. It is difficult to think of a another policy issue on which the ground has shifted so far, so fast, and difficult to think of another policy issue on which the gulf between the two political parties is so vast and striking.
Why is this important? We think the winning candidate from either party should link their proposals on jobs, health, peace, and climate. Each time a presidential candidate raises the bar on climate policy further, leveraging the jobs, health, peace platform ideas along with that climate platform, he or she ups the pressure for other candidates of both parties to do the same.Let's turn this on end to clarify. If climate policies put forward by individual Candidates are proposed as stand-alone, command and control programs, based primarily on the media-based 1980's model of US environmental management (air, water, & land), they'll drag their respective campaigns down. Conversely, if Candidate climate proposals are designed specifically to mesh with job, health, and peace proposals, it's an integrated strategy for victory, transcending the single issue politics that were typical of the last two election cycles.
Important aside: Adapting to climate change impacts seems not yet to have emerged as the debate topic that it deserves to be. Drought, preparation for and response to it, and water resources management, in general, are near term issues of growing significance that cry out for attention.
Candidate Bill Richardson gets TreeHugger kudos for bravely suggesting the need for grappling with water issues at a national scale, in spite of his foot in mouth statement about Wisconsin water. See our post about that debacle here.
Drought is not an Army Corps of Engineers project. It's a not just a Homeland Security/FEMA emergency response issue. And, it's not something to dump on the hydrologists at the US Geological Survey (USGS). Nor is water resources management only something to be handled by the States, as current events in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida amply demonstrate.
From the NGO side, the Red Cross is clearly not up to the task of large scale drought response, as this post demonstrates.
Which Federal agency is likely the best one to take the lead of drought and flood issues? USEPA gets our vote because of their long history of administering the Clean Water Act. But, lets see what the candidates say. Better late than China.