On Energy And Climate Change, Clinton And Trump Differ Sharply Presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have very different views on energy and climate change. In our series, What's The Issue, we find out just how much they differ.

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On Energy And Climate Change, Clinton And Trump Differ Sharply

On Energy And Climate Change, Clinton And Trump Differ Sharply

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Presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have very different views on energy and climate change. In our series, What's The Issue, we find out just how much they differ.


This presidential election has rarely focused on climate and energy, even though it is an area where the candidates differ sharply and climate change and energy policy are issues of deep concern to millions of Americans. Over the past few weeks, MORNING EDITION has hosted a series of conversations called What's The Issue. Today, we speak to NPR's Christopher Joyce of our science desk about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton's views on energy and the environment. Good morning.


MONTAGNE: Now the topic did come up at the very end of the second debate. An audience member asked the candidates how the country can develop its energy resources while being environmentally friendly. And what did that voter hear?

JOYCE: Well, Donald Trump jumped on it right away. He seemed quite eager to get to this question. He said that the Obama administration has held the energy industry under siege. This is what he said.


DONALD TRUMP: We have to guard our energy companies. We have to make it possible. The EPA is so restrictive that they are putting our energy companies out of business. And all you have to do is go to a great place like West Virginia or places like Ohio, which is phenomenal, or places like Pennsylvania, and you see what they're doing to the people - miners and others - in the energy business.

JOYCE: In speeches in other places on energy, he's said the same thing. He's gung ho for development. He says Hillary Clinton is not. The fact is that oil and gas production is up in the U.S., but at the same time, the Obama administration has put oil reserves in Alaska off-limits. He's limited offshore exploration along the Atlantic coast. And these are things that Donald Trump says he wants to do. He wants to make, he said, the country energy-independent. Now, every candidate and every president has said they wanted that since Nixon. It's never happened.

MONTAGNE: And Trump also accuses Obama and Clinton of what he calls waging a war on coal.

JOYCE: Yes, that's a line that a lot of Republicans have been complaining about - that the coal industry is suffering. And it is suffering. A lot of coal-fired power plants are out of business. The major reason, though, is because natural gas is so cheap. It's replacing coal. It's cleaner, and it's cheaper. However, miners are being put out of work. And Donald Trump said that he is trying to put those miners back to work in the mines.

MONTAGNE: By reopening the mines?

JOYCE: Right.

MONTAGNE: OK. Well, so Trump squarely backs the traditional fossil fuel industry. What about Clinton?

JOYCE: Well, Clinton says she wants all of the above. She wants traditional fossil fuels, but much more renewables as well. You know, she agrees that oil and gas are being produced at tremendous amounts lately. But she also said that the U.S. is energy independent, which is actually not true. It's - we're still importing lots of oil. But she does put renewables at the center of her campaign, and this is what she said during the debate.


HILLARY CLINTON: I support moving toward more clean, renewable energy as quickly as we can because I think we can be the 21st-century clean-energy superpower and create millions of new jobs and businesses.

MONTAGNE: All right, so this involves rather ambitious solutions that will require a lot of investment for solar power, for example.

JOYCE: Extremely ambitious. I mean, the Clinton campaign has said they want to generate enough renewable energy to power every home in America with half a billion solar panels installed by the end of her first term.

MONTAGNE: Which would be 2020. Sounds not realistic. Is that realistic, Chris?

JOYCE: That's a $60 billion bit of realistic ambition, if you want to say it that way. This would be a tremendously difficult thing to accomplish in the period of time she says. Even the federal government's own energy experts have said that it would take longer than that. But a lot of people say, look, it's good. It's aspirational. Let's - let's tackle it.

MONTAGNE: And, of course, the biggest environmental issue of the day is climate change. And there's been a lot of talk about the fact that Donald Trump has expressed disbelief in man-made climate change.

JOYCE: He has. He denied saying that in the debate, but actually his tweets show that he's called it a hoax and a myth. And he's also extremely pessimistic about the Paris Agreement that was signed last December. This is an agreement that 195 nations have signed, saying that they'll collectively reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. He says no way. He says he'd dismantle that.


TRUMP: So foreign bureaucrats are going to be controlling what we're using and what we're doing on our land in our country? No way.

JOYCE: Actually, each country makes its own pledge, and each country decides whether to live up to it or not. Yes, there will be some oversight from the U.N., but they don't control it.

MONTAGNE: OK, well, Hillary Clinton, she does support the Paris Agreement.

JOYCE: She does. She's said all along that she supports the international approach. She's made a point quite often that Donald Trump doesn't believe in climate science and that she does. She spoke last week in Florida to a crowd after Hurricane Matthew, and this is what she said.


CLINTON: We cannot risk putting a climate denier in the White House at all. That is absolutely unacceptable.


CLINTON: We need a president who believes in science and who has a plan to lead America in facing this threat and creating good jobs.

MONTAGNE: There you go - jobs.

JOYCE: (Laughter). Jobs.

MONTAGNE: Both of them are promising jobs.

JOYCE: Yeah, I mean, each bit of tape has something about jobs in it. They're politicians. Jobs are important for them. And the difference is that, for her, jobs can be found in the transition to a cleaner-energy world. To Donald Trump, jobs are already there in the fossil fuel world.

MONTAGNE: That's NPR's science correspondent, Christopher Joyce. Thanks very much.

JOYCE: You're welcome, Renee.

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