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October 11, 2012

Setting the Stage: The Vice Presidential Debate

Oil moneyTonight, Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan will face-off in Danville, Kentucky for the first and only debate between the candidates for Vice President. Both will have a chance to debate the important issues facing this country and lay out their vision for the future. But when it comes to the critical issues affecting the health of our planet and the health of our families, we already know the differences between the two candidates could not be greater.

Over the last four years, the Obama and Biden Administration has a strong record of accomplishments that have helped us make landmark progress in developing clean, renewable energy, safeguarding clean air, clean water, and the health of American families and reducing the pollution that causes climate disruption. In stark contrast, Ryan is the architect of a reckless budget plan - supported by his running mate, Mitt Romney - that would turn back the clock not just on these last four years, but on decades and decades worth of achievements to protect our natural legacy, the health of our kids, and the future of our planet.

When it comes to clean energy, Vice President Biden can point to a record that represents the most significant progress in developing new American renewable energy that creates new jobs and protects our air and water in history. In 2009, The Obama & Biden Administration signed into law the largest clean energy investment in our nation’s history in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. That legislation helped the United States regain its place as the world’s leader in clean energy investment as wind installations doubled, solar increased by a factor of five, and hundreds of thousands of new American clean energy jobs were created. Obama and Biden have also been fighting to extend the wind production tax credit to create clean energy jobs across the nation, while they’ve stepped up to end the tax subsidies for Big Oil companies making record profits while prices rise at the pump. On the other hand, Ryan made clear in his budget that he’ll let dirty energy companies maintain a stranglehold over our energy future. His plan opposes the wind production tax credit and slashes support for renewable energy but provides billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies to the biggest oil companies.

The records of both tickets make it clear that only one is serious on acting to mitigate climate disruption. The Obama-Biden Administration implemented new vehicle efficiency standards that will help save Americans money at the pump, create upwards of half a million new jobs, and stand as the most significant step ever taken by ANY administration to reduce our dependence on oil and cut climate-disrupting climate pollution, slashing greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 10 percent. Under Obama and Biden, we’ve also seen historic new standards to limit carbon pollution from new power plants that will further help turn our climate crisis around. Ryan and Romney, however, have joined the fringes of their party by not just rejecting the vast scientific consensus about climate disruption - but by mocking those concerned about extreme weather and climate change. Its no surprise then that Ryan consistently voted to keep our nation from acting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Administration’s record on protecting the health of American families is equally accomplished, and just last year Obama and Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency established important new protections curbing the emission of mercury, smog, acid rain and other toxic pollutants and protecting our air and water. Those are all protections Ryan voted to weaken while at the same time pushing a plan that guts the programs used to enforce our existing clean air and clean water standards. And while Obama and Biden have acted to protect millions of acres of public land and established new national monuments,  Ryan’s budget poses a risk to the open spaces they enjoy, as it could potentially close National Parks across the country.

Given Ryan’s unpopular climate denialism, his history of voting against clean air and water, and the harsh cuts his budget would deliver to clean energy and protection of natural resources, he’ll have a hard time running from his reckless record. Biden, on the other hand, has worked with President Obama to achieve significant progress toward a clean energy economy and a healthy future that he should be proud to highlight.

-- Cathy Duvall, Sierra Club Director of Public Advocacy and Partnerships

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Paid for by the Sierra Club Political Committee,www.sierraclub.org, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee


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