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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Convention Wrap-Up

Air Date: Week of

Host Steve Curwood and Jeff Young discuss whether Senator McCain’s message to take action on climate change is being drowned out by the Republican party base’s battle cry: “Drill, baby, drill!”


CURWOOD: So let’s bring back Living on Earth's Jeff Young for some final thoughts on the week he spent with the GOP in the twin cities. Hey there, Jeff.

YOUNG: Oh ya, you betcha, Steve. Trying to blend in here in Minnesota.


CURWOOD: Okay, well how do you sum all of this up?

YOUNG: You know, what struck me is this shift in tone when it comes to energy and the environment issues. Instead of using this convention to, I don’t know, appeal to moderate swing voters concerned about climate change, eager to see the country move toward cleaner energy, well this has largely been a showcase for the traditional Republican energy priorities. It’s as if the gravitational pull of the Republican Party base is just too great, even for McCain the maverick to withstand. Now, of course McCain supporters like James Woolsey and Senator Joe Lieberman insist that their candidate is still committed to addressing climate change. Now we heard little -- very little -- of that message from the podium and from the delegates here in St. Paul this week. The energy message here boiled down to a simple three-word chant: drill, baby, drill.

CURWOOD: Okay, Jeff, now you spent a week with the Democrats in Denver and another with the Republicans in St. Paul. They both talked a lot about energy. What can we expect from them now?

YOUNG: Well you know, the Democrats are having their own internal struggle on energy. They’re trying to appease voter concerns on high gas prices, trying to smooth things over with Democrats from coal and oil states. And both parties are pushing this “all of the above” energy message. They want to be the ones who voters think “ah – those folks have the right balance.” But if you look just beyond that “all of the above” slogan, you see a pretty stark difference here. Despite Senator McCain’s actions on global warming in the past, and he does have a strong record here, the Republican message increasingly is one that puts the emphasis on expanding oil drilling, expanding nuclear power. Support for alternative energy and conservation is falling farther down on that agenda. Democrats largely view additional drilling as the small part of an energy strategy that instead emphasizes green jobs, the potential for renewable energy. So I think the battle lines are pretty clear here and we’re going to see that fight on the campaign trail certainly over the next sixty days, and we’re going to see it in Congress in the next few weeks as this spills over onto Capitol Hill.

CURWOOD: Living on Earth’s Jeff Young on the road home to D.C. from St. Paul and the Republican convention. Thanks, Jeff. I think you’ve got your work cut out for you back on Capitol Hill figuring out all that maneuvering. Good luck.

YOUNG: Thanks, Steve.

[MUSIC: Snowboy/Various Artists “Astralisation” from Acid Jazz Rarities (Acid Jazz Records 2004)]



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