On Friday, C-SPAN hosted an event with energy/environment advisers from all three campaigns — attending were Jason Grumet (Obama), James Woolsey (McCain), and Todd Stern (Clinton). (A slightly different threesome than the one I saw at the WSJ conference.)
You can watch streaming video of the event here.
I haven’t watched through the whole thing yet, but thus far I just hear lots and lots of sensible thoughts and broad agreement.
The moderators — the excellent Margie Kriz from National Journal and Susan Feeney from National Public Radio — are really letting me down. Feeney used her one specific question to ask about … wetlands? Grumet tried to make something interesting out of it, but she really drilled down on wetlands.
Then Kriz blows her one question on nuclear. Boring. The advisers all spin something good out of it, though.
Maybe more later.
UPDATE: OK, fine, I’ll live blog it (retroactively) a little below the fold.
Says Jason Grumet, in response to the question about wetlands on the Gulf coast: "Adaptation is one of the key planks of the Obama campaign platform." He didn’t put a number on the billions Obama proposed to put toward it, but he said it was "several billions a year." Obama: bringing Joe Romm and Roger Pielke Jr. together. He really is a uniter!
Todd Stern is playing up the comments from McCain adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin that McCain would stick to cap-and-trade and downplay other complementary policies (see here and here). Grumet takes it up too, to pound on the difference and say he’s no longer sure where McCain stands.
Holy sh*t, Woolsey just up and said not to pay attention to McCain’s other adviser! He said McCain sees a substantial role for government. He stresses removing existing subsidies and not picking winners.
Grumet doesn’t let him off the hook — it’s not about picking winners, it’s about establishing performance standards alongside cap-and-trade. He stresses fuel economy standards.
Science magazine woman asks the tedious old population question.
Grumet: Yes, it fundamental, but let me pivot to the subject of the developing world. Given the number of people demanding our living standards, we need "profound changes in technology." That’s why Obama supports some stuff that doesn’t make him popular, like clean coal and advanced nuclear — it’s going to be vital in China.
Todd Stern: yeah, decouple development from carbon.
Jeff Young from Living on Earth: Sequestration is a decade or two away. What about coal plants being built now? Gore and Hansen say we need a moratorium. And why are you all supporting liquid coal? [Jeff is officially my hero.]
Stern: First, Clinton backs federal funding for 10 large-scale CCS demonstration plants; second, she wants to get started on what is sure to be a massive regulatory system for sequestration; third, she’s in favor of requiring plants to be "capable" of CCS. (That’s a classic dodge.)
Grumet: Obama is confident his carbon policy will make it "ludicrous" to invest money in new coal that’s not 100% sequestered. You only need a $15/ton price on carbon to make pulverized coal uneconomic. If Obama’s unable to get that climate policy in place, he will do whatever is necessary to prevent construction of a round of new pulverized coal plants, including standards that would essentially amount to a moratorium.
Woolsey: Two decades is pessimistic. IGCC is here now; we have sequestered carbon for recovery in oil fields. Lots of work going on around algae eating CO2. Deep saline aquifers will take 10 years, $10b (says MIT). This administration set things back by canceling FutureGen. Far as I know, McCain doesn’t support liquid coal.
Jeff Young notes the other two dodged that part of the question. My hero.
Grumet: This CTL has become a myth. Obama will only support fuels that present a 20% lifecycle improvement over gas. CTL can’t do that now, but maybe it could in the future. Obama’s the one that introduced the low-carbon fuel standard (from Europe and Calif.) nationally.
Oregon Public Broadcasting asks how candidates rank climate change among other issues, and how often they discuss it in their stump speeches.
Stern: Those are two different questions. The first is more important, and for Clinton it’s top tier. Health care and climate change the two top issues. One reason it hasn’t been discussed a ton in the primary is that there’s not huge difference between Clinton and Obama plans.
Grumet: Asked his top issue in New Hampshire, Obama said energy. You’ll hear more about it in the general.
Somebody from Crane Communications asks the stupid "what are the campaigns doing to walk the walk" question. Ugh. I won’t even bother to record the responses.
Altogether I’m quite impressed with the advisers and not very impressed at all with the journos in the crowd. More on that later.