As skiers and snowboarders, our lives revolve around snowfall. For many who consider the mountains a sacred place, the 2012 US Presidential debate has been frustrating. Climate change was not a focus of the debates, the dangerous effects of global warming barely touched upon despite the intensity of last season’s record losses and business closures in the majority of American mountain communities. Unfortunately, as non-profit organizations such as Protect Our Winters and environmental groups can attest, the responsibilityof the USA to reduce carbon emissions is a constant political battle. Tapping natural resources without worrying of future consequences is threatening not only the environment, but global citizens concerned with American trends as the largest consumer of energy the world has ever seen. Oil drilling is a hot topic in this election, as both the Democratic and Republican candidates agree that the country is too dependent on foreign oil with plans to increase domestic production, inevitably harming the environment.
The war between America’s dependence on the automobile and its inability to produce even a fraction of its energy use will be one of many pressing issues for voters during the US election. The rocked economy is struggling from high unemployment and soaring prices at the pump, with California counties reporting the most expensive price per barrel ever. Will the elected President focus on renewable energy and reduce the burning of fossil fuels? Mountain enthusiasts have a responsibilty to take care of our planet if we wish to pass these great sports onto the next generations, but we will have to reduce our carbon emissions to slow the unnatural effects of climate change. The debate has opened a dialogue with international mass media, mountain enthusiasts, environmentalists and professional athletes as voters determine their stance going into the November 6th, 2012 Presidential Election.
After the second 2012 Presidential debate, the Scientific American reported, “Climate Change A No Show at Presedential Debate, But Candidates Clash On Energy.” While gas prices continue to rise nationwide, American citizens are bleeding their pockets at the pump and wondering where to turn. The economy is hurting, and so are our mountain towns that depend on winter tourism to nearby resorts – it seems like a downward spiral.
Both candidates consider oil drilling necessary to reduce US dependence on foreign resources. Governor Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama of being responsible for rising gasoline prices and reduced access to public lands for oil production, and being disingenuous about supporting fossil fuels. Oil production, gas prices, and renewable energy are hot topics in this election. With voter turnout a major issue in the 2012 election, Protect Our Winters and the Surfrider Foundation have asked professional skiers, snowboarders and surfers to remind their respective communities to get out and vote.
“This is a critical election for the environment. We spend the entire year fighting for key environmental issues and this is our opportunity to be active participants to create the change we’re seeking.,” says Chris Steinkamp, Executive Director for Protect Our Winters. ”It’s just so important that everyone who can vote, takes a few minutes to do it. And we know that having pro athletes deliver that message can be really impactful.” POW/Surfrider’s goal is to remind the action sports community to get out and vote. Eleven pro athletes such as Travis Rice, Jeremy Jones, Gretchen Bleiler and Chris Davenport have all submitted personal video clips asking people to remember to get out and vote on November 6th.
Here are some highlights from the 2012 US Presidential debates in regards to the candidates’ energy policies:
“The Obama Administration’s policies just do not work,” Romney stated. He strives for energy independence within eight years, suggesting that jobs are going to come back with his plan. “More drilling, more energy production… good jobs back to the middle class of America,” Romney stated.
Obama came back with, “We have a choice to make. We can remain one of the world’s leading importers of foreign oil, or we can make the investments that would allow us to become the world’s leading exporter of renewable energy. We can let climate change continue to go unchecked, or we can help stop it.”
Obama has sharply raised federal standards for fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks, while Romney opposes the fuel efficiency standards. Romney is of the opinion wherein the solution to our environmental problem lies in adopting a market approach. Romney stated his goal of loosening environmental protections to help business. While solving the environmental challenges, “we should also be supporting growth,” he said.
Energy independence is Romney’s focus for America’s future, with desires to open all federal lands and waters for drilling, including the entire Pacific and Atlantic coasts. He believes the nation will also need to develop and harness alternate sources of energy such as nuclear energy, biodiesel, ethanol along with exploiting more domestic sources of oil such as Outer Continental Shelf and Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Romney believes that rather than establishing mandates, the United States should harness its power of innovation to enhance the alternative energy sources and discover innovative technologies that will help use the energy more efficiently. He desires to keep tax incentives and tax breaks for oil and gas drilling. These amount to about $4 billion a year.
The coal industry has also been a focus of Romney’s debates as a target sector for job growth. Democratic candidate Obama is working towards reducing the carbon pollution which he sees as a threat to our climate and will perpetuate the dependence on fossil fuels. Obama policies include imposing stringent measures on carbon polluters.
“We’ve been talking about climate change in Washington for years and energy independence and efficiency for years,” Obama said. “But no matter how many scientists testified about greenhouse gases, no matter how much evidence that they’re threatening our coasts and endangering our weather patterns, nothing happened with global warming until now.”
President Barack Obama‘s website with his policies: www.BarackObama.com
Governor Mitt Romney’s website with his policies: www.MittRomney.com
While a hybrid vehicle may sound like the best option to reduce your own dependency on oil and your carbon footprint, another action to capitalize on as an American citizen is to GO VOTE in the 2012 Presidential Election on November 6th, with mail-in voters already busy sending in their ballots. Register to vote, here. Do your homework to make an informed decision and make a difference with the power of your VOTE. Read through the all the issues carefully, and definitely do your research elsewhere to learn more from various sources. Make sure to take advantage of your right to vote and GET TO THE POLLS!
*In the state of California, the deadline to register to vote for any election is 15 days before Election Day.
Sources: presidentialelection.com, 2012presidentialelectionnews.com, 2012.candidate-comparison.org, barackobama.com, mittromney.com, washingtonpost.com, theinertia.com, surfrider.org, protectourwinters.org