Environment affects student voting

Presidential candidates’ stances on environmental issues play a large role in student support.

Though recent polls say the economy is the top issue on most voters’ minds, The Minnesota Daily’s Environmental Issues Survey found the environment plays a role when students choose favorite candidates.

According to the survey, 84 percent of students reported a politician’s environmental stance is important when supporting a candidate.

Clinton

– Supports 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gases by 2050
– 25 percent of U.S. electricity should come from renewable sources by 2025
– Supports a 55 mile-per-gallon, fleetwide standard for American automobiles by 2030

obama

– Supports 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gases by 2050
– 25 percent of U.S. electricity should come from renewable sources by 2025
– Supports a 50 mile-per-gallon standard in 18 years

Mccain

– Lead author in Congress of a bill that would reduce emissions by 65 percent by 2050
– Focuses on efficiency and global climate change as more of a security issue

However, only 12 percent reported the environment as the most important issue.

Jeff Stolley, a political science sophomore, was rallying for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama this week.

He said while the environment plays a role in his support for the Illinois senator, Obama’s stance on education and foreign policy were most significant.

Stephen Peichel, Applied Environmental Solutions president, said the environment was the No. 1 factor when heading to the polls.

“I think as a whole, everyone can feel pretty good about the candidates this year,” Peichel said. “None of them are sponsored by big oil companies.”

Peichel added that a lot of environmental suggestions from the Senate and the House of Representatives have been vetoed, he said, because President George W. Bush is sponsored by oil companies.

According to the survey, 22 percent of students reported a concern for the environment as a “liberal” issue.

Melissa Stucki, a first-year kinesiology student, said the environment is not an issue of party.

“Everyone’s thinking about it,” she said.

While Peichel said he thought Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had the best environmental policies, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, supports many environmental issues in Minnesota and Republican presidential candidate Gov. Mike Huckabee supports environmental issues as well.

The candidates’ policies

Elizabeth Wilson, a professor at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, has thoroughly researched the candidates’ environmental policies and attitudes.

Wilson said there is little to no difference between Obama’s and Clinton’s stances on the environment at this point – but some potential shifts will likely occur when the general election takes center stage.

Both Clinton and Obama support 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gases by 2050, and both say 25 percent of U.S. electricity should come from renewable sources by 2025, Wilson said.

Clinton supports a 55 mile-per-gallon, fleetwide standard for American automobiles by 2030 and Obama supports a 50 mile-per-gallon standard in 18 years, she said.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain is the lead author in Congress of a bill that would reduce emissions by 65 percent by 2050.

Wilson said McCain focuses on efficiency and global climate change as more of a security issue.

She said Huckabee supports a cap on carbon emissions, but without a specified target. He supports renewable electricity standard of 15 percent by 2020 and that includes nuclear power.

Huckabee plans for energy independence within 10 years, if he is elected president.

While Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul talks boldly about energy independence, Wilson said, he hasn’t articulated a position on global warming.

Wilson said when choosing candidates, another important component is which candidates would make an effort to follow through with political action mirroring their positions.

An 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gases in the next 45 years is a radical transformation of how we produce, transport and use energy, she said.

“Any of those large-scale solutions take a long-term, concerted effort,” Wilson said. “So the question is which of these candidates can work across the aisle to make these very difficult policies and compromises come to the floor?”