Tracking Presidential Candidates on Energy No Easy Task

Alongside long-term goals, how about a short-term plan?

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You can't tell the players without a score card.

No one knows that better than anyone trying to track the presidential candidates' positions on global warming. The League of Conservation Voters is trying to keep up to date with a quick reference chart on candidates' ever evolving platforms on climate change and energy.

Just added: Sen. Hillary Clinton's new plan. At first glance, her 55-mpg goal on automobile fuel efficiency looks like the highest on the campaign trail. But her target date is 2030. Sen. John Edwards's 40-mpg goal by 2016 may be far more ambitious. But where does Clinton expect to be by 2016? Sen. Barack Obama's "50 mpg in 18 years" leaves vague where the countdown begins. As for former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, he has "no articulated position" on any energy policy element, except for his support for liquid coal. Which, by the way, does not yet exist.

Also, although LCV previously had Sen. John Edwards supporting a ban on new coal plants, his staff clarified and LCV amended its chart. Edwards only supports a ban on new coal plants "unless they are compatible with carbon capture and storage technology." That technology also does not yet exist.

In fact, there's something overly futuristic about all the candidate energy policies. Here's a question every candidate should answer: Where should the country aim to be by 2012—the end of your first term in office—on fuel economy, on a renewable electricity standard, on efficiency, on coal, on carbon emissions limits or carbon taxes? Sure, give us the big picture if you want, but what are the first steps for taking us there?