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Hillary releases rockin’ climate plan. Green gap grows.


Our irregular posting schedule has meant far fewer election updates than I originally planned, but it’s worth noting that with the release of Clinton’s energy plan we now have three extraordinarily solid proposals on offer from the leading Democratic candidates.

For the rundown on Clinton’s plan, see David Roberts. It is entirely unsurprising that Hillary’s plan is good. Her chief rivals have already released great plans, so anything less than great from Hillary would have been stumble. One interesting wrinkle is her proposal for a National Energy Council, modeled on the National Security Council, that coordinates energy policy across government agencies. Given the scope of the issue, this probably makes a lot of sense.

The plan is also bad in all the same places that her rivals’ plans are bad: excessive support for biofuels, clean coal silliness, etc. But these blemishes don’t detract much from the overall goodness. Hillary’s plan is heavy on efficiency, sets strong targets for reductions, and favors auctioning 100% of allowances under a cap-and-trade system. High fives all around.

Clinton, Obama, and Edwards have offered up fairly similar plans. Sifting through the minor differences isn’t all that interesting, particularly given the vast gulf that separates plan from future reality. But the bigger picture is fascinating indeed. Two major points:

  1. The aggressiveness of the plans on offer is really quite miraculous. Items that environmentalists used to fervently wish for but never dare to expect have become the consensus position. This is rapidly becoming a cliche, but it’s one I’m happy to repeat: we’re making galloping progress on this issue.
  2. The so-called Green Gap between Democrats and Republicans is becoming…awkward. Obviously, there has always been a gap between the way the major parties approach environmental issues, but climate change is different. It wraps together energy policy, economic considerations, and even national security concerns in a way that doesn’t fit comfortably into the old frames of conservation and regulation. After the primaries, when everyone has to tack back to center, it will be interesting to see how the Republican nominee tries to cover the Green Gap.

Photo available under Creative Commons license from flickr user sskennel.

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