Muckraker: Grist on Politics

The Salt Lake Tribune has an in-depth look at Barack Obama’s and John McCain’s records and rhetoric on energy, honing in on a number of specific issues, from renewables to oil shale to “clean coal.” There’s even a handy chart.

Washington Post columnist Andrew Freedman looks at how the presidential candidates might reshape federal climate research. McCain says he wants the 21 separate scientific “synthesis and assessment” reports coming from the U.S. Climate Change Science Program consolidated into a “real National Assessment.” Obama says there need to be studies on both the short-term and long-term effects of climate change on society and ecosystems. Both candidates agree that programs that monitor the Earth and transmit that information to scientists and local officials should be strengthened.

• Though Sarah Palin has sued the feds for listing the polar bear as a threatened species, she apparently likes the critter enough that she’s been wearing a polar bear pin.

• Palin regularly expounds upon the need for “energy independence,” but Time reports that the governor missed an opportunity to help get billions of cubic feet of natural gas from Alaska’s Cook Inlet to the lower 48 states. Though there’s a new liquefied-natural-gas terminal on the West Coast that could receive natural gas from Alaska and put it into a pipeline system that serves California, Arizona, and Texas, “[a]t no time did Palin or her government cite the desire to preserve Alaskan gas for the lower 48 states.” Instead, energy producers in the state continue to export the fuel to Asia, where they can get a better price for it.

• The Sierra Club is targeting McCain in the swing state of Ohio. The group is airing a new radio ad [MP3] in the state that criticizes McCain’s record on renewable energy. Last week, the Sierra Club organized voter outreach efforts in Ohio (as well as Pennsylvania and Virginia) with Working America, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, and Executive Director Carl Pope and Political Director Cathy Duvall both joined canvassers on the ground, going door-to-door in Cleveland and Canton.

• CNN brings us a piece on the presidential candidates’ stances on climate change. It notes that “their positions have not been discussed in detail,” and then fails to discuss their positions in detail. The article asserts that “the lack of heated debate between the candidates on the issue of the environment may be because both take a similar position on climate change and international engagement” — conventional wisdom that’s called into question almost daily in Gristmill. If you want substantive analysis of the candidates’ policies, don’t look here.

Backpacker interviewed both Obama and McCain on issues important to “backcountry enthusiasts.” They touched on national park funding, climate change, protection for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the candidates’ favorite hiking spots.