I was just on a conference call with the Clinton campaign’s energy advisors, who were answering questions from the press. A couple of interesting tidbits:

I noted that the cap-and-trade system laid out by Clinton dramatically exceeds what’s contained in the Lieberman-Warner bill, both in terms of the permit auctions and the overall targets, and noted that Clinton’s on the Senate energy committee, which will be taking up the L-W bill soon. I asked if her bold plan meant she’d vote against it.

They dodged. They said they recognized that Lieberman-Warner fell short of her plan, but said to contact her Senate office about how she plans to vote. "This is about what she’ll do as president." Unsatisfying. Friends of the Earth has just issue a press release noting that L-W falls short, and that Edwards has already said he’ll oppose it, calling on Clinton to do the same.

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A reporter from the Iowan Des Moines Register said, "she only talked about cellulosic ethanol in her biofuels section. Does she think corn ethanol is transitional?"

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I crossed my fingers, but …

"No!" They practically shouted. No, no, no, she loves corn ethanol. She thinks it’s great! She thinks it will always be part of the mix. It’s just that we need all fuel stocks to reach the ambitious biofuel targets she’s laid out. But no, really, she think corn ethanol will always be involved. You hear me, Iowans?! Hillary loves your farmers!


The only other interesting answer came in response to a question from the Detroit News, which was, naturally, about the CAFE standards in the plan — 55mpg by 2030. The advisors defended the target, but then also rushed to explain how Clinton would help automakers. There would be some "green vehicle bonds" to help factories and such transition (more on this later), and — this is the interesting bit — "the cap-and-trade program would produce assistance for energy-intensive industries."

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Now, as you know, the criticism of giving away permits under a cap-and-trade system is that it would produce windfall profits for polluters. By auctioning all permits, Clinton has seemingly avoided this criticism. But if she takes the auction revenue and then … gives it to polluters, well, she’s just hidden the windfall profits, not eliminated them. I’ll try to follow up on this with her advisors in a bit.