How green is your primary candidate?

An environmental primer for Tsunami Tuesday

By Victoria Schlesinger

If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to vote. Tuesday, February 5, will see the results of presidential primary votes in 19 states (plus an additional three Democrat and two Republican primaries), effectively delivering the nation its two presidential contenders.

Some 52 percent of the Democrat and 41 percent of the Republican delegates are at stake – the largest amount to ever be determined in a single day. For that reason, this year’s Super Tuesday has been promoted to Tsunami Tuesday (Or giga Tuesday, etc., but we’re sticking with the Mother Nature reference).

Given the urgent need for a response to climate change, each candidate’s environmental record deserves extra scrutiny. Plenty readers are already weighing in. A poll we posted on this website in the second week of January asked which primary candidate had the greenest record. Out of 97 responses, roughly 50% chose Obama, 25% Clinton, 12% McCain, and 11% Huckabee. Testament to how quickly political winds change, we didn’t include Romney in the poll because at that time he lagged behind.

To help readers in their decision on this singularly important day, here’s our down and dirty MATRIX summarizing the presidential primary candidates’ environmental priorities.

MATRIX glossary:

***: Despite a good look, we didn’t come across any comment or action worth noting.

Cap-and-trade: Buying and selling greenhouse gas emissions permits and offsets in the open markets.

Environmental toxins: Pollutants in our water, air, earth, and food that can damage human health.

Fuel economy standard: Policy that requires a minimum gas mileage performance.

LCV lifetime score: “The League of Conservation Voters’ scorecard represents a consensus of experts from more than 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who selected the key votes on which members should be graded. Scores are calculated on a scale of 0 to 100 based on the number of pro-environment votes cast out of the total number measured. Absences are counted as a negative vote.”

Low-carbon fuel standard: Policy that reduces the amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted during making and burning of transportation fuel.

RES (Renewable Electricity Standard): Policy that requires utilities to gradually increase the portion of their electricity produced from renewable resources such as wind, biomass, geothermal, and solar energy.


For more information, visit the candidates websites or, another excellent source, is the League of Conservation Voters. Candidate websites: Clinton, Obama, McCain, Romney.




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Your candidate website for Senator Obama is not correct please have this fixed shortly so we are able to view all candidates websites equally. Thanks

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