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Party Conventions Underscore the Divide Between Old and New Economies

govwhitmanAs the Republican National Convention is ending and the Democratic National Convention is beginning, it may signify one of the sharpest differences between the two party platforms: the transition from the old economy to the new one, where climate change has figured prominently in the evolution.

Little was said during last week’s Republican confab is Cleveland about whether the earth is warming and about whether the shift from fossil fuels to more sustainable ones is good for the environment or the economy. What the party’s platform did say, however, is that coal is a “clean” source of power and that in a Trump administration, the White House would try to lift “oppressive” regulations.

While the Democratic convention has yet to begin as of this writing, readers can be assured that the notion of the green energy economy and what they say is the threat of climate change will get a full hearing in Philadelphia. In fact, President Obama rode to Washington in 2009 on a platform of creating a new energy economy using sustainable fuels — one that would help lift the then-recession ridden economy out of the dark tunnel from where it had been.

Hillary Clinton has vowed to carry that torch. And according to a Gallup Poll, two-thirds of Americans support that environmental effort. The ones who don’t are those who live coal country and who have seen their local economies crater because livelihoods have been lost while state budgets have shrunk as a result.

“The low cost of natural gas been putting coal-fired plants out of business,” says the former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman, in an interview with Environmental Leader. “We need to do something for these coal communities.”

Whitman, who is also the former Environmental Protection Agency administrator under the George W. Bush administration and the co-chair of the CASEnergy Coalition that promotes carbon-free nuclear power, says that those coal communities could try to attract manufacturers. To that end, she says that as nuclear energy expands in Asia, it will require the building of component parts in this country — businesses that could be set up in coal country.

But Whitman insists that the evolution toward a clean tech economy must go on. To that end, she says that the federal government must either put a price on carbon on the front end or to penalize those industries that pollute more on the back end.  “The world is moving  in this direction.

“Every study you see confirms the ill-effects of bad air and pollutants on human heath,” Whitman adds. “We need to take action. It gets to quality of life.”

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