Low Impact Living: Who’s the Greenest? Obama vs. McCain

  • Published on June 9th, 2008

Editor’s note: Let the race begin! As Senator Obama is now the presumptive Democratic nominee, it’s time to start comparing his plans and record with that of presumptive Republican nominee Senator McCain. Our friends at Low Impact Living get the ball rolling… This post was originally published on Wednesday, June 4, 2008.

Now that we seem to have a Democratic candidate, we all need to be digging into the environmental views and policy plans of Senators Obama and McCain.

To help us sort it out, Reuters has published a featured called FACTBOX: U.S. Presidential Candidates on the Environment and Energy. It’s a good piece and we encourage you to read it. Here are some highlights:

On Climate Change

  • Obama would cut carbon dioxide emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and require fuel suppliers to cut carbon content by 10 percent by 2020.
  • McCain favors a cap-and-trade approach to carbon emissions. He sponsored legislation in 2007 to cut emissions by 30 percent by 2050.

On Oil Use

  • Obama would reduce overall U.S. oil consumption by at least 35 percent by 2030.
  • McCain has no specific targets. He says he will unveil a strategy to reduce reliance on foreign oil sources.

On Biofuels

  • Obama would boost the renewable fuel standard to at least 60 billion gallons of advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol by 2030. He would also mandate that all new vehicles be “flex-fuel” by the end of 2012.
  • McCain favors ethanol incentives after opposing them in the past. He generally opposes subsidies and tariffs that distort the marketplace.

Grist has also done some excellent interviews with the candidates on their environmental positions. Click here to read McCain on the Record, and click here to read Obama’s views.

What do YOU think of the candidates’ stances on the environment? Who are you supporting and why?

Read More about presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain:

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

About the Author

Low Impact Living™ is a way of life. We believe you want to lessen the load you put on the earth. You want to reduce global warming. You want to recycle. You want to do what's best for the environment, but often you don't know where to start. And you don't know what impact your efforts will have, or how much they will cost. At Low Impact Living, we want to help you lower the environmental impact of your home and your daily life. To do that, we help you find the best green products, practices and service providers to help you achieve your environmental goals. And we will also help you understand the environmental benefits and economic trade-offs of your choices. Our primary goal is to make the path from inspiration to implementation as short and as smooth as possible. Only by taking action will we collectively reduce the damage to our planet and ecosystems. Visit us at http://lowimpactliving.com


  • Obama needs to make at least one environmental goal to be completed before the end of his second term to make sure that he himself can be held accountable for progress or lack thereof.

    One place where both candidates are wrong: ethanol is a failure. It didn't lower fuel prices and caused a food shortage. We can't sink another penny into it.

  • Barack Obama and John McCain have made recent statements on US offshore oil drilling while on the US presidential campaign trail. Well, Offshore Drilling is a huge issue right now and rightly so. Between the

    desire to deal with the economic mess that is being spurred by the price

    of oil and the on-going longer-term concern of global warming, how do we

    address all of this? Check out Obama and McCain in side-by-side videos

    on Clash/US Offshore Oil Drilling comparing their recent

    comments on ANWR and offshore oil drilling. It is, if nothing else,

    very interesting to hear their perspective.

  • I like Obama's ideas. The truth is that offshore drilling will probably happen someday. Oil is just too useful to us humans, even if only to create plastics and the many other by-products like asphalt etc.

    But it won't help now. It would be YEARS before the first barrels of oil hit the markets, and by then gas will be what? 7,8,9 $ a gallon?

    On the other hand, at least requiring cars to get better gas mileage and be capable of using flex fuels puts us on the road towards energy independence.

    It has the added benefit of giving US car manufacturer's cars to build thus putting people to work in this country again.

    So it's good if you're a greenie..or just a working joe.

  • So, HOW will Obama make all these grand changes? MANDATE flex-fuel vehicles in less than 4 years? Reduce US oil consumption by at least 35% in almost 30 years? Lofty promise there. . .he won't be president then.

    They're all full of it.

  • "McCain favors ethanol incentives after opposing them in the past. He generally opposes subsidies and tariffs that distort the marketplace. "…

    Must be why we are in Iraq, paying a lot of money to fund a subside..I mean war.

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