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The single-issue voter: A birder’s look at Hillary Clinton – D

October 2, 2007
It’s that time again. As civic-minded individuals do, I’m oft interested in how the platforms of those running for president affect my life, that’s as a birder naturally. With so many candidates and elections still more than a year off I decided to do the work so you, dear reader(s), don’t have to. So here’s what I hope will be a regular look as those who would be birder-in-chief. Starting with the long-shots and working my way up so that you all will be prepared when the time comes to cast your ballot. The fifteenth part of The Drinking Bird’s sixteen part series. 


Hillary Clinton is a runaway train. A fund-raisin’, candidate crushin’, poll-winnin’ machine who looks to take the Democratic nomination without breaking much of a sweat, especially with 25 primaries coming up in only a few months time. The race is hers to lose without a doubt, for better or for worse. I’m personally no huge fan of Senator Clinton, though I can’t say I dislike her either. She’s certainly a polarizing figure to many folks and there’s a lot of irrational dislike of her from the days of the first Clinton administration. But with a clear majority of the democratic voters behind her according to recent polls, that she’s a force to be reckoned with cannot be denied. But, what does she think about birds? 

Clinton has earned a 90% lifetime voting score from the League of Conservation Voters and runs with the Democratic pack with regard to many environmental issues. It’s no surprise then, that she has voted to ban oil exploration in ANWR and supports reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil though increased ethanol, biofuel and coal to liquid fuel use. The party line in short, despite the issues I’ve discussed ad nauseum with the habitat loss implicit in increased ethanol and biofuel production. That’s not all though, on her campaign website Clinton states that she would force American energy companies to “make a choice”, either to invest in renewable energies themselves or invest in a nationwide Strategic Energy Plan that would invest in energies like biofuel, ethanol and clean coal.

In a Clinton administration oil companies would also have to pay their “fair share” to drill on public lands. What that fair share is exactly is is unclear, though with oil company profits as they are, it may not be too much to assume that no price is too high to prevent oil exploration on our protected lands. This is surprisingly not much different than the current administration’s energy policy, it appears Clinton only intends to raise the price of selling out our embattled western gamelands. Disappointing to say the least. While perhaps not directly relevant to her presidential bid, it is interesting to note that Clinton was on the board of a notorious polluter, the Lafarge cement company, which burned during her tenure (and continues to burn) major quantities of coal and hazardous waste in their kilns. While not implicitly bird-related, the air quality implications for birders (and everyone else) are obvious.

I was a little surprised that Clinton’s environmental platform is perhaps the weakest of any of the Democratic contenders. She has done little for habitat preservation and conservation as Senator, her priorities are simply elsewhere. Though she should realize that many of the issues she considers to be most important are directly connected to issues of importance to birds as well. If she does in fact come out with the nomination, I will certainly be one to hold my nose and cast my ballot for her. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but she has the money and the momentum so I suspect it will.


Next Thursday: Rudy! But unfortunately not the Notre Dame football player.
  1. John permalink
    October 2, 2007 11:26 am

    One way to differentiate among the candidates with at least a passing grade might be to look at the types of “alternative” energy they favor. Clean coal and coal-to-liquid are not all that clean. Corn-based ethanol has its own problems, including the added pollution to waterways from the pesticides and fertilizers needed to grow it. If those are Clinton’s solutions, I’m not all that impressed with her platform.

  2. October 2, 2007 11:43 am

    I agree John. It bothers me when the candidates simply jump on the ethanol train as if it’s some sort of savior without any consideration to increased efficiency and conservation, not to mention the questionable environmental issues ethanol brings up as well. As if we would be able to continue consuming ethanol at the same rate as we now consume oil. Some candidates (Kucinich, Biden, Gravel, even Obama) have at least mentioned conservation and increased efficiency as necessary policies to tackle in addition to alternative energies.

    I hate to be so cynical but I think much of this “clean” coal and ethanol talk is just saying what sounds good rather than making a real effort to change how we do things as a country. Ethanol is a safe topic. I was also surprised and disappointed with Clinton’s platform to that effect.

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