Sergio Leone bequethed us a handy system for ranking the presidential candidates' positions on climate change: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. On that scale, Bernie is Blondie/Clint Eastwood, Hillary and Kasich are the mercenary Angel Eyes/Lee Van Cleef, and Trump and Cruz are tied for the comical but dangerously unhinged Tuco/Eli Wallach. Let's take them in reverse order:
Donald Trump has said climate change is a hoax, while developments with his name all over them ring coastal cities like New York and Miami, which sea level rise from melting icecaps threaten to put underwater first. Ted Cruz insists that religion, not science is the cause for global warming, as if all the wicked people on earth will somehow be swept into the ocean. I don't even know what that means.
John Kasich and Hillary Clinton both say they believe climate change is real. But Kasich downplays it and as governor made Ohio the first state to freeze its renewable portfolio standard, stalling an engine which created 25,000 jobs.
Hillary's climate plan sounds ambitious (though its goals are too low), calling for supplying a third our electricity from renewables by 2027. But like Kasich, she has been a crony of the natural gas industry, which already supplies a third of the US energy supply and is trying to supply much more. And like Kasich, she supports fracking.
Fracked gas is mostly methane, which is at least 86 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2. Research shows it's actually worse for climate change than oil or even coal. Massive methane leakage into the atmosphere is endemic to fracking. The only way to stop it is to leave shale gas in the ground.
Kasich presided over the largest expansion of fracking in Ohio history. Hillary's State Department created the Global Shale Gas Initiative, a joint diplomatic and industry effort to promote fracking in 30 countries around the world.
According to Greenpeace, Hillary Clinton took $4.5 million from lobbyists representing the fossil fuel industry. She attended a fundraiser in California hosted by fracking financiers hours before giving a complicated, prevaricating answer about whether she supported fracking during the Democratic debate in Miami. Bombarded by questions about her fossil fuel ties, she recently lost her cool (something Angel Eyes never would have done), attacking Bernie for lying and patronizing "young people" for not doing "their own research."
You want research? The Public Accountability Initiative and Common Cause have tracked lobbying expenditures and influence, and found the fossil fuel industry has effectively hijacked our government. If Hillary wants any semblance of credibility for her climate and energy positions, she has to stop taking the money.
Asked in Miami whether he supported fracking, Bernie Sanders unequivocally said "no." He's just doubled down on that and called for a national ban on fracking. His climate plan calls for curbing the influence peddling of the fossil fuel industry and building the renewable energy future now. That would mean his political revolution would also be an energy revolution, demanding a total overhaul of American energy policy.
Is that realistic? Ask China. It has committed to building one terrawatt of renewable energy by 2030. That would cover all of US energy demand. Besides, how realistic is to punt to fracked gas, accelerate climate change and let the oceans engulf our major coastal cities?
Whether Bernie wins or loses, the climate movement must demand the same level of action China is taking here in the US. If Hillary wins the Democratic nomination, Democrats cannot allow her to take the same position as John Kasich; she has to do better. She must reject fossil fuel money and repudiate the bid to make fracking America's next energy regime.