2008 Second Presidential Debate: Environment Highlights

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Obama and McCain

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Last night, another heated debate took place between the Republican and Democratic Presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama. This debate took the form of a town hall meeting at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee and allowed questions from the audience, as well as online.

This time, both candidates spoke strongly about their plans for the future, and how alternative energy and environmental issues are going to play a part in that.

While McCain stressed the importance of expanding the US Nuclear Power sector, Obama came out on top, announcing a 10 year plan to eliminate the American public’s dependency on foreign oil, and comparing this goal to the one set by JFK to make it to the moon.

Obama said, “Now, when JFK said we’re going to the Moon in 10 years, nobody was sure how to do it, but we understood that, if the American people make a decision to do something, it gets done. So that would be priority number one.” This bold statement may be one of the reasons that 54% of the viewing public chose Obama as the debate winner, with only 34% behind McCain. Keep reading to see key excerpts from the official transcript that showcase each candidate’s position on environmental topics.

 

McCain: We can work on nuclear power plants. Build a whole bunch of them, create millions of new jobs. We have to have all of the above, alternative fuels, wind, tide, solar, natural gas, clean coal technology. All of these things we can do as Americans and we can take on this mission and we can overcome it.

We can move forward, and clean up our climate, and develop green technologies, and alternate — alternative energies for — for hybrid, for hydrogen, for battery-powered cars, so that we can clean up our environment and at the same time get our economy going by creating millions of jobs.

 

Obama: This is one of the biggest challenges of our times.

And it is absolutely critical that we understand this is not just a challenge, it’s an opportunity, because if we create a new energy economy, we can create five million new jobs, easily, here in the United States.

It can be an engine that drives us into the future the same way the computer was the engine for economic growth over the last couple of decades.

And we can do it, but we’re going to have to make an investment. The same way the computer was originally invented by a bunch of government scientists who were trying to figure out, for defense purposes, how to communicate, we’ve got to understand that this is a national security issue, as well.

And that’s why we’ve got to make some investments and I’ve called for investments in solar, wind, geothermal. Contrary to what Sen. McCain keeps on saying, I favor nuclear power as one component of our overall energy mix.

But this is another example where I think it is important to look at the record. Sen. McCain and I actually agree on something. He said a while back that the big problem with energy is that for 30 years, politicians in Washington haven’t done anything.

What Sen. McCain doesn’t mention is he’s been there 26 of them. And during that time, he voted 23 times against alternative fuels, 23 times.

So it’s easy to talk about this stuff during a campaign, but it’s important for us to understand that it requires a sustained effort from the next president.

One last point I want to make on energy. Sen. McCain talks a lot about drilling, and that’s important, but we have three percent of the world’s oil reserves and we use 25 percent of the world’s oil.

So what that means is that we can’t simply drill our way out of the problem. And we’re not going to be able to deal with the climate crisis if our only solution is to use more fossil fuels that create global warming.

 

  • Ian Andrew

    As the Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greener Ideal, Ian has been a driving force in environmental journalism and sustainable lifestyle advocacy since 2008. With over a decade of dedicated involvement in environmental matters, Ian has established himself as a respected expert in the field. Under his leadership, Greener Ideal has consistently delivered independent news and insightful content that empowers readers to engage with and understand pressing environmental issues.

    Ian’s expertise extends beyond editorial leadership; his hands-on experience in exploring and implementing sustainable practices equips him with practical knowledge that resonates with both industry professionals and eco-conscious audiences. This blend of direct involvement and editorial oversight has positioned Ian as a credible and authoritative voice in environmental journalism and sustainable living.

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