Power to the People: Sweet Rudy Blue Eyes


Editor’s note: This week, Smartpower‘s Mike Garofalo takes a look at former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani’s positions on energy and the environment.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is one of the ‘top tier’ candidates for the Republican nomination for President. Rudy served as Mayor from 1994 through 2001, distinguishing himself in the eyes of many Americans during the national crisis on September 11th. Giuliani had previously served in the Reagan White House, and also as a Public Prosecutor, and in the US Attorney’s Office.

On the campaign trail in New Hampshire, only next-door (Massachusetts) neighbor Mitt Romney has made more trips to New Hampshire than Giuliani has. Rudy has campaigned in every corner of our state.

I caught up with “America’s Mayor” in mid-June. I asked him about his plans to make America energy independent. Giuliani replied, “Let’s get serious about energy independence. We need to put resources into ethanol production. We need to license more nuclear plants. Nuclear power is dangerous but so is every other form of power.” (Really? Wind power is dangerous???)

When I asked him about what forms of clean energy he favored, he seemed ambivalent – “We need to look into cleaning coal. Wind and solar energy today are just too inconsistent.”

While on the stump that day, Giuliani spoke about how energy independence was a critical component of our national security. He begrudgingly acknowledged that global warming is occurring and that we are probably exacerbating the problem but it is not a staple of his stump speech. While he doesn’t run from the topic when asked, he doesn’t offer it without provocation.

So what are Giuliani’s plans for Energy Independence?

  • He wants to expand domestic corn ethanol production; he believes that we should use bio-fuels to help displace foreign oil use in our vehicles. Corn and cellulosic ethanol, as well as biodiesel, should play a role. He believes that the bio-fuels industry can help revitalize rural America;
  • Giuliani wants to license more nuclear plants within the US and to relicense and modernize existing plants. To anyone worried about the safety of nuclear power, Giuliani said, “No one’s ever died from nuclear power in the United States” but that nuclear power needs to be produced safely;
  • Giuliani also called for more clean-burning domestic natural gas;
  • He has been promoting expanded drilling for domestic oil and natural gas, including drilling off of the coast of Florida and in ANWR;
  • He believes that clean coal technology will help us become more energy independent. Carbon sequestration techniques are a priority for him. He stated that our abundant coal reserves may help wean us off polluting fossil fuels;
  • Giuliani also supports the coal to fuel synthesis claiming it can be one of most “valuable contributors to our energy independence”;
  • Giuliani is promoting Efficiency and Conservation. He has stated that America’s government, corporations, and individuals must engage in efficiency and conservation efforts that reduce demand for oil, without damaging America’s competitiveness worldwide or our standard of living. America needs to use more energy-efficient technologies and take personal responsibility for conserving energy.

With respect to climate change, Giuliani recognizes that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. He has said, “I do believe there’s global warming, yes. The big question has always been how much of it is happening because of natural climate changes and how much of it is happening because of human intervention. I think we have to accept the view that scientists have that there is global warming and that human operation, human condition, contributes to that.”

While he recognizes that climate change is a problem, he opposes mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions. He falls back on the old argument that “if China and India are not restricted, then our contribution will be minor.” (Where is the leadership?)

Surprisingly, regarding renewable energy, Rudy said, “Renewable sources of electricity, including solar, wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal power, will play an important role in our move to energy independence.”

However, I do tend to take his comments on expansion of renewable energy with a grain of salt. The reason for that is because he is leading all of the presidential candidates, of both parties, in accepting contributions from people in the oil and gas industry, totaling over a half million dollars already! Not incidentally, his current law firm has represented such companies as Chevron Texaco, Enron, Duke Energy and Pacific Gas and Electric.

Based on current national polls, Rudy may very well wind up being the Republican nominee in 2008. The NH Republican primary voters just might not support Rudy if they keep the sage words of Stephen Stills, ringing in their ears,

“Don’t let the past remind us of what we are not now. I am not dreaming.”

Next Week:
Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo

SmartPower – the national non-profit marketing organization that is leading the creation of a voluntary market for clean energy and energy efficiency.

Rudy Giuliani’s Presidential Campaign Website

Image Credit: Flickr
– First in the Nation Forum, Manchester, NH

Mike Garofalo’s Previous ‘Power To The People’ Columns

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