American voters thought they knew what would happen at the vice presidential debate last night. We expected a snoozefest between two virtually unknown politicians (both Pence and Kaine rank in the 30s for voter recognition) who were likely chosen as a VP candidate solely to balance out the perception of their respective nominee. Pence will stand as a levelheaded, reliable human next to irrational, megalomaniac You-Know-Who. Kaine will bring his impassioned personality to the standoffish Clinton.
But right on the heels of Obama’s SXSL panel on climate change, there was one big, green elephant in the room. Are they going to address one of the most polarizing issues facing our country’s future? Where do these two candidates stand on climate change? Are either of them capable of giving a straight answer?
If you missed last night’s debate, let me give you the short answer: no. Climate change wasn’t discussed at the debate — but then again, not much was.
But given the fact that You-Know-Who is a climate change denier and is snuggled tight in the pocket of foreign oil conglomerates, to put it mildly, Pence’s stance on global warming is a big freaking deal. Will Pence be a yes man pushing You-Know-Who to ban renewable energy? Or could he possibly be a voice of reason whispering into that orange ear?
Since it wasn’t discussed at the debate, here’s a recap of both VP candidates’ histories on climate change.
Mike Pence On Climate Change
- Has a lifetime score of 4% from League of Conservation Voters (LCV), meaning that he voted against almost every pro-environment issue during his 12 years in Congress.
- Opposes President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
- Received at least $850,000 from the energy sector for his 2012 gubernatorial campaign — including $300,000 from David Koch.
- Has said that You-Know-Who will “end the war on coal.”
- Voted to prevent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on greenhouse gases.
- Voted in favor of offshore drilling in the Atlantic ocean.
- Indiana is the eighth largest coal producer in the US.
- Listed on President Obama’s ‘Call Out Climate Change Deniers’ website
- In 2014, he overturned an energy efficiency program claiming it was too expensive. Fun fact: the Indiana Public Utility Commission estimated that it would have created more than 18,600 jobs.
- In 2014, Indiana had the second highest industrial greenhouse gas emissions in the country.
Tim Kaine On Climate Change
- Has a lifetime score of 91% from the LCV. (Reminder: Pence has a score of 4%.)
- Supports President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
- Was considered instrumental in opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline by opposing early in 2013.
- Endorsed the US goal of transitioning to 25% renewable energy by 2025
- Protected 400,000 acres from development
- Introduced the first climate change commission in Virginia.
- As governor of Virginia, approved plans for a 668-megawatt coal plant — one of the last coal plants built in the country.
- Has been in favor of offshore drilling in the Atlantic, but has since reversed his stance since joining the Clinton ticket.
- Wrote an op-ed piece and referred to himself as a “pro-pipeline senator.”
- Supported fracking in national forests.
The Bottom Line
In true form to this expletive-filled election, the bottom line is blurred. Kaine is definitely more eco-conscious, but he’s had his fair share of environmental blunders. He’s not the most reliable candidate, but then again, reliable doesn’t seem to be the name of the game in this election.
The only thing we really learned from last night’s VP debate is that we’re really, really going to miss Joe Biden.