Gal Luft is the most hated man in Riyadh, Detroit, and Des Moines, according to Esquire Magazine who's voted him as one of America's brightest in 2007. Luft, who also happens to be Israeli, is pretty vocal in Washington about getting America off foreign oil.
I spoke with him the other day, interviewing him about the importance of fuel choice and why Americans need to commit to adopting flex fuel cars. But that's another story.
As a Canadian-Israeli, I find it hard to form hard opinions about American presidential candidates, but am always interested to hear how Americans feel, especially now that so much of America's -- and the world's -- "green" future could hinge on the upcoming elections.
While writing a couple of pieces on the issue over on the carbon offset website Carbon Catalog (see Republicans versus Democrats), I pretty much came to the conclusion that both presidential candidates had penned the same environment policy.
That said, I was very interested to hear Luft's thoughts. Mainly because he's advised Capitol Hill on America's last energy bill, and is directing an influential think tank that opinion leaders are listening to.
"We are at war now and need to make some tough decisions. Oil independence underlies so many of these issues," he says referring back to social problems in America we'd been speaking about earlier in our conversation.
"If you look at both platforms, most of the big issues [on the environment] are quite similar," says Luft. Having worked with both political parties on their campaigns, he says he doesn't see a significant difference between their policies.
Most of the major issues concerning environmental policy in the US, says Luft, are not a "presidential prerogative. These are all congressional mandates."
Close to election time, people are looking for the things that set campaigns apart; Luft thinks offshore drilling criticism is an example, and is something minor, mainly because the US is really such a smaller player in the oil market anyway, with only 3% of the world's supply.
Luft says that the real question "green" loving Americans will be needing to ask themselves is which candidate will be able to create a bi-partisan majority. "My feeling is that John McCain will be able to leverage more Republicans. If we have a Democratic Senate and House, the Republicans will be less likely to help move policy," he says.
And what's a good policy worth when it can't be implemented?
Luft feels that McCain has a "better chance of success" bringing important environmental issues to Congress. "A president cannot make energy policy without Congress. He doesn't have the power to do it," says Luft.
Now for why Luft is the most hated man in Riyadh, Detroit and Des Moines, read the Esquire story.