Republican U.S. Senate candidates weigh on in climate change, energy policy and Northern Pass
Former Republican state Sen. Jim Rubens answers questions after announcing his plans to run against incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Wednesday Sept. 18, 2013 in Concord, N.H. Rubens describes himself as a private venture investor, and ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1998. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Former Massachusetts U.S. Senator Scott Brown announces his plans to run for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire Thursday, April 10, 2014 in Portsmouth, N.H. Brown hopes to unseat U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
The three Republican candidates seeking to unseat U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, outlined divergent views on energy policy and climate change in a series of recent interviews with the Monitor.
Jim Rubens said he believes global warming is happening largely as a result of human activity. “I understand there’s a problem,” he said in the interview.
Scott Brown, who didn’t identify the cause of climate change – whether man made or natural, said “obviously the climate is changing all the time. . . . The bottom line is we have to find a way to make sure we protect our environment.”
Bob Smith said he doesn’t support the concept that man is causing global warming. “The issue of warming is one thing, that it is caused by fossil fuels is another,” he said. “I don’t think the evidence supports it.”
Government role in policy
On energy policy, Rubens and Smith said they would not support any energy subsidies and instead favor a free market. Brown said he won’t discount incentives.
The country should strike a balance, Brown said, between creating jobs, economic policy and protecting the environment. And to get there, Brown said, his “all of the above” energy approach includes wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, geothermal, natural gas and some incentives.
“There are times when we as a society want to incentivize people for doing and taking certain actions. I don’t think that is inappropriate,” said Brown, who added that he has supported the wind production tax credits in the past and voted to end ethanol subsidies. “Useful life is gone, got rid of that.”
Once incentives have become successful, Brown said it is time to pull back and look at new opportunities. “We need to continuously adjust and adapt when it comes to our energy policy,” he said.
When asked whether the oil industry should receive tax incentives, Brown said, “Whatever we’re going to do with regard to our tax policies, we need to do it without targeting and demonizing people and businesses.” He has voted to maintain them in the past.
Both Rubens and Smith said they don’t support any government energy subsidies.
“They are distorting the energy markets,” Rubens said. “I am proposing getting rid of wind, solar, corn ethanol, nuclear, oil – all of them.”
Rubens, who once supported a carbon tax, said the subsidies are not price competitive and are promoting the use of old technology in the nuclear industry. “I believe the free marketplace is at the point . . . where this stuff can’t be stopped anymore,” he said.
Smith said the government should get away from energy subsidies and let the free market give way to new technology. “The competition in the private sector produces most of the successes we have had,” he said.
Smith also said the country could better use its gas and oil resources. “We have a great deal of oil and natural gas we’re not drilling. . . . I believe we can do it environmentally responsibly, and we should,” he said. “There are national security implications . . . and big time economic implications.”
Brown said he also favors increasing domestic production and supports the Keystone XL Pipeline, a proposal to bring oil from Canadian tar sands to refineries in the U.S. He also said he supports expanding natural gas infrastructure and nuclear energy.
“It’s one tool in the toolbox, it’s not just nuclear power . . . we need to make sure we have other alternatives as well,” he said.
Earlier this year, Brown issued a three-page white-paper on energy policy that outlines a range of other policies, including an expansion of biofuels, encouraging energy efficiency and strengthening Congress’s oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Although not an issue that the U.S. Senate will vote on, all three candidates said they don’t expect the Northern Pass project to get permitted as proposed.
“I don’t believe it will ultimately get approved – unless they ram it through – without dropping the wires, hiding them,” Brown said. People want the jobs and the energy, he said. “You don’t throw away the aesthetic beauty of that region to just ram it through without people being – their lives, their livelihood – being part of the solution.”
“If it is needed, I think it would get quickly permitted if it was 100 percent buried under I-93 and the rail bed,” Rubens said.
“That is my personal view that it should be underground,” Smith said. “If they say otherwise, I will respect the view.”
The three candidates will face off in a primary Sept. 9.
(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)