National office-seekers

Seth Woehrle

A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 57 percent of Americans polled thought that candidates’ stances on the environment would be “very important” in deciding how they will vote in the 2000 presidential election.
The environment has been a key point of contention in the first two presidential debates with Democratic candidate Al Gore and Republican candidate George W. Bush trading barbs on issues like drilling for oil in the Alaskan wilderness and global warming.
Bush said he supports drilling in the Arctic Refuge to alleviate foreign oil dependency. While he supports a moratorium on new off-shore drilling leases off the coasts of California and Florida, he plans to look on a “case-by-case” basis to see if drilling can proceed.
Gore said he opposes all drilling in Alaska along with the coasts of California and Florida. He proposes to protect other areas that might be threatened by oil, gas or mineral development.
The two candidates differ on the Kyoto Protocol as well. The protocol was a 1997 agreement reached in Kyoto, Japan by 160 nations to limit emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses.
The protocols allowed exceptions and special provisions for former Soviet Bloc nations as well as China and India.
Bush said he refuses to ratify the Kyoto Protocol because of those exemptions. His platform characterizes the protocol as “ineffective, inadequate and unfair to America.”
Gore helped produce the agreement at the Kyoto Global Warming Conference and plans to ratify the protocol if elected president.
Bush said that global warming is a real problem but believes that the issue needs more study.
The candidates also differ on energy policy. Gore prefers to explore alternative energy sources and technology, while Bush wants to use more of the nation’s coal reserves.
But while these issues are subjects of heated debate in the presidential race, Minnesota candidates for Senate have put environmental issues on the back burner.
DFL candidate Mark Dayton’s environmental platform mirrors the Democratic view. He opposes Arctic Refuge drilling and supports the Kyoto Protocol.
Dayton said that logging in national forests can be done responsibly and is important to the economies of areas like northeastern Minnesota.
James Gibson, the Independence Party’s candidate for Senate, shares similar views on environmental issues with the Democrats.
He, like Dayton and Gore, opposes Alaskan drilling and the Kyoto agreement. He said more research into alternative energy is necessary before it can become a viable solution to the problems of coal, oil and nuclear power.
Republican Rod Grams’ campaign did not return the Daily’s phone calls, but statements he has made in the past are consistent with the Republican platform.

Seth Woehrle covers environmental issues and welcomes comments at [email protected]