Sunday, December 8, 2013
Maine's major U.S. Senate candidates agree on the need to reduce America's dependence on imported oil, but they disagree about what should replace it with and how to get there.
These file photos show Maine's leading candidates for U.S. Senate in the November 2012 general election. Left to right: Independent Angus King, Republican Charlie Summers and Democrat Cynthia Dill. (AP Photos, File)
These file photos show Maine candidates for U.S. Senate in the November 2012 general election. Top row left to right: independent Danny Dalton, independent Andrew Ian Dodge and Democrat Cynthia Dill. Bottom row left to right: Independent Angus King, Republican Charlie Summers and independent Steve Woods. (AP Photos, File)
WHERE THEY STAND
Here is what Maine's three lesser-known U.S. Senate candidates have been saying about energy policy. All are independents:
DANNY DALTON has said the United States must reduce its dependence on foreign soil so energy no longer has sisgnificant impact on our foreign policy. He favors conservation efforts, expanded use of natural gas and more domestic drilling, but he does not support nuclear power. Dalton is a veteran of the Army and Air Force, and a former civilian contractor for federal agencies.
ANDREW IAN DODGE supports allowing more domestic oil and natural gas drilling, including in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, for economic and national security reasons. He supports tidal power but opposes mountaintop wind turbines as damaging and inefficient. He opposes federal funding for any form of energy.
STEVE WOODS said national defense and the health of people and the planet should drive the discussion about energy policy. He favors the full range of domestic energy resources and believes the government has to be involved in Ideveloping alternative sources to fossil fuels. Woods said his company, Tidesmart Global in Falmouth, uses solar energy and other technologies to reduce its use of fossil fuels.
Democrat Cynthia Dill and independent Angus King want Congress to support clean, renewable energy technologies to help replace oil. But while King supports expanded natural gas production as a transition fuel, Dill says the extraction method is too risky for the environment.
Republican Charlie Summers wants to replace foreign oil with whatever domestic sources can compete in the market, including oil, gas, nuclear power and renewables.
Energy is an important issue for voters in Maine, where high oil prices are having an especially big impact on family budgets and the state economy. Maine remains more dependent on heating oil than any other state, with about 70 percent of homes burning oil for heat.
Heating oil prices have inched up to an average of $3.76 a gallon statewide, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration has projected that it will cost more to heat with oil this winter than any winter on record.
Mainers also are heavily reliant on cars -- and gasoline -- to get around in a rural state with little public transportation. Gasoline now costs an average of $3.76 a gallon, 21 cents more than a year ago and about $1 more than two years ago.
Here is a closer look at what the major candidates for Maine's open U.S. Senate seat have been saying about energy policy:
Dill says the country must promote clean, renewable sources of energy and reject environmentally risky oil and gas development.
Dill supports federal subsidies for new domestic energy sources such as wind and tidal, and wants to end subsidies for fossil fuels.
"Government can play a role in leading the United States to energy independence by making smart investments," she said at a forum on energy issues in September. "It's high time that subsidies to oil and gas companies be ended."
Dill says the Obama administration deserves credit for expanding domestic production of oil and natural gas in the last four years, but she wouldn't expand oil or gas production in ways that pose unnecessary environmental risks.
She opposes opening new areas such as the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, for example.
She said climate change is clearly being fueled by humans and presents "the biggest threat to civilized society."
She opposes the extraction of natural gas by fracturing bedrock, a process known as fracking, saying it is too risky for the environment.
Dill also opposes the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry Canadian tar sands oil through the United States. The project would not create American jobs but would perpetuate the dependence on fossil fuels and present "a huge environmental risk," she says.
Dill also opposes nuclear power development, saying there is no solution to the radioactive waste disposal problem.
King says he wants to move the country away from oil and transition to renewable, domestic sources of energy.
He has called natural gas a transitional fuel that can reduce oil imports and lower energy costs in the short run.
"(Gas) gives us an unparalleled opportunity to get off oil and coal," King said at the energy forum in September.
He says fracking can be done safely if it's properly regulated.
King has said that moving away from oil is critical to the economy and the environment. The science linking energy use to climate change is clear, he says.
He opposes opening new areas such as the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, saying the output would be too small to make a difference in supply or price.
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