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#KenBone becomes famous — and not for asking a non-#climate question

October 9th, 2016 · 4 Comments

The second 2016 Presidential debate just finished and a new meme is emergent: #KenBone.

Sadly, Ken Bone is more likely to be remembered for his red sweater, disposable camera, and other attributes rather than the substance of his question:


We have one more question from Ken Bone about energy policy. Ken?


What steps will your energy policy take to meet our energy needs while at the same time remaining environmentally friendly and minimizing job loss for fossil power plant workers?

Several early striking points here before we even get to the candidates:

  • Yet another debate has passed without a direct question related to climate change … as if it is some form of unimportant, minor issue with minimal public interest and even less difference between the two presidential candidates.
  • The moderators mentioned the online questions, pulled up a relatively low question and ignored multiple (much) higher ranking climate/clean-energy questions.
  • With all due respect to Mr. Bone, this certainly seems like a question that might have come from a fossil-fuel lobbying group: “meet energy needs … environmentally-friendly … minimize job loss for fossil power plant workers…”.
    • Seriously, “minimize job loss for fossil power plant workers” only occurs with the following:
      • Enacting policies that dissuade automation reducing numbers of workers required per kilowatt hour produced.
      • Doubling down on a system and policies that ignores externalities (e.g., pollution & health/climate impacts) with increased subsidies for polluting fossil fuels.
        • While pollution controls can reduce damage from pollutants like ash and mercury, they fundamentally do not reduce coal’s climate damages.
        • Investing in fossil fuels — however done — means reduced resources for moving toward a cleaner-energy economy.
    • And …
    • How about an alternative …? Wouldn’t a better question have been:
      • “How do we meet energy needs while reducing environmental impacts and providing appropriate protections for and assistance to workers in disrupted industries?”

Okay, so it wasn’t focused on climate and seemed to have come from the fossil fuel industry.

What is the quick summary of the candidates’ responses (see transcript from NPR after the fold)?

  • Donald Trump
  • Hillary Clinton
    • Primarily a fact-based discussion
      • Some specific factual errors.
        • Such as asserting US “energy independence” when there are still significant oil imports.
    • Wrongly continuing a line of natural gas as a legitimate “bridge fuel”.
      • This might have seemed reasonable a decade or so ago for someone serious about climate change and a clean energy future but not any more. We now know is simply wrong.
    • Generally committed to continue — and accelerate — nation’s movement toward a clean energy future.
    • Mentioned Climate Change!
      • “I have a comprehensive energy policy but it really does include fighting climate change because I think that is a serious problem”

What are three core points for the climate aware voter in 2016 from tonight’s debate?

  • Even climate-aware moderators aren’t asking climate questions as debate climate silence continues.
    • Okay, no surprise, but telling … isn’t it?
  • If you care about climate action, you must vote for Hillary Clinton.
    • From supporting the Paris Accord to plans to help miners to solar panels to …, when it comes to climate change, Hillary Clinton has many good (even some great) policy concepts …
      • And, her campaign chief — John Podesta — is probably the best senior ‘inside’ person on climate in the United States … if his influence continues into the West Wing …
    • Donald Trump would be catastrophic for efforts to #ActOnClimate —
      • we don’t have 4-8 years to throw away …
  • Post election day, the work won’t be done …
    • whether on natural gas or otherwise, President Hillary Clinton will need to be pushed (along with Congress, Governors, State Legislatures, Mayors, Business leaders, …) to move toward stronger, fact-based, more effective climate action and policy.

Some shared thoughts:

To Donald, this tweet

Hey, @RealDonaldTrump, “ is like healthy cigarettes”.  @Debates 

And, #NatGas is NOT a #climate solution, actually #BridgeToNowhere #ActOnClimate, go #solar #pv/#wind/#efficiency!

— A Siegel (@A_Siegel) October 10, 2016

Transcript re energy from NPR — with some of their initial fact checking.


We have one more question from Ken Bone about energy policy. Ken?


What steps will your energy policy take to meet our energy needs while at the same time remaining environmentally friendly and minimizing job loss for fossil power plant workers?


Absolutely. I think it’s such a great question, because energy is under siege by the Obama administration. Under absolute siege. The EPA – the Environmental Protection Agency –  is killing these energy companies. And foreign companies are now coming in, buying so many of our different plants and then rejiggering the plant so they can take care of their oil. We are killing, absolutely killing our energy business in this country.

Domestic oil and gas production have increased steadily during President Obama’s time in office.  The U.S. has been the world’s leading producer of natural gas since 2011 and the top producer of oil since 2013.

The Energy Information Administration says gasoline prices averaged $2.25 a gallon last week.  About 7 cents a gallon cheaper than a year ago, and about 20 cents a gallon less than Obama’s first year in office.

Now I’m all for alternative forms of energy, including wind, including solar, etcetera. But we need much more than wind and solar. And you look at our miners.

Hillary Clinton wants to put all the miners out of business. There is a thing called clean coal.

Clinton did tell a town hall audience in Columbus, Ohio in March of this year that “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” But that was part of a longer answer about the need to help blue-collar workers adjust. “We’re going to make it clear that we don’t want to forget those people,” Clinton said. “Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health, often losing their lives to turn on our lights and power our factories. Now we’ve got to move away from coal and all the other fossil fuels, but I don’t want to move away from the people who did the best they could to produce the energy that we relied on.”

The coal industry is facing pressure from both regulations designed to combat greenhouse gases and price competition from cheap natural gas.  Although the U.S. Supreme Court has put the president’s Clean Power Plan rules on hold temporarily, many utilities continue to shift away from coal for both economic and environmental reasons.  As a result, coal-fired power plants generate less than a third of U.S. electricity today, down from more than half 15 years ago.  And coal mining employment dropped below 75,000 in 2014, with Appalachian mines seeing the steepest declines.

Coal will last for a thousand years in this country. Now we have natural gas and so many other things because of technology. We have unbelievable – we have found over the last seven years, we have found tremendous wealth right under our feet, so good. Especially when you have 20 trillion in debt. I will bring our energy companies back. They’ll be able to compete. They’ll make money. They’ll pay off our national debt. They’ll pay off our tremendous budget deficits — which are tremendous.

But we are putting our energy companies out of business. We have to bring back our workers. You take a look at what’s happening to steel, and the cost of steel. China dumping vast amounts of steel over the United States, which essentially is killing our steel workers and our steel companies.

The Commerce Department last month made a preliminary finding that imports of stainless steel sheet and strip from China are being dumped in the U.S. market at less than fair value.

We have to guard our energy companies. We have to make it possible – the EPA is so restrictive that they are putting our energy companies out of business. And all you have to do is go to a great place like West Virginia or places like Ohio, which is phenomenal, or places like Pennsylvania, and you see what they’re doing to the people, miners and others in the energy business, it’s a disgrace. It’s an absolute disgrace.


You’re time is up. Thank you. Secretary Clinton – two minutes.


Well, that was very interesting. First of all, China is illegally dumping steel in the United States, and Donald Trump is buying it to build his buildings. Putting steel workers and American steel plants out of business. That’s something that I fought against as a senator and I would have a trade prosecutor to make sure we don’t get taken advantage of by China on steel or anything else.

You know because it sounds like you’re in the business or you’re aware of people in the business. You know that we are now, for the first time ever, energy independent. We are not dependent upon the Middle East. But the Middle East still controls a lot of the prices. So the price of oil has been way down and that has had a damaging effect on a lot of the oil companies, right?

We are, however, producing a lot of natural gas which serves as a bridge to more renewable fuels. And I think that’s an important transition.

We’ve got to remain energy independent. It gives us much more power and freedom than to be worried about what goes on in the Middle East. We have enough worries over there without having to worrying about that.

So I have a comprehensive energy policy but it really does include fighting climate change because I think that is a serious problem. And I support moving to more clean and renewable energy as quickly as we can. Because I think we can be the 21st century clean energy superpower and create millions of new jobs and businesses. But I also want to be sure we don’t leave people behind. That’s why I’m the only candidate, from the very beginning of this campaign, who had a plan to help us revitalize coal country. Because those coal miners and their fathers and their grandfathers, they dug that coal out, a lot of them lost their lives, they were injured, but they turned the lights on and powered our factories. I don’t want to walk away from them. So we’ve got to do something for them.
But the price of coal is down worldwide. So we have to look at this comprehensively and that’s exactly what I have proposed. I hope you will go to

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Tags: 2016 Presidential Election

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