The Voter's Guide to Candidate Views on Energy

The candidates respond to the "Voting Energy" Survey:
Maloy vs. Peake, Powell vs. Turkington, Delahunt vs. White

by Chris Powicki

cirec_logoResults from the "Voting Energy" Survey offer detailed insight into the views of opposing candidates seeking to represent local communities. They also identify areas of consensus to support future planning and policymaking on issues relating to energy efficiency, renewables, climate change, and sustainable development in the Cape & Islands region.

Included among the 15 respondents to the survey are candidates for governor, attorney general, federal representative, state senate, state representative, and county commissioner.

Agreement on the following points was nearly universal:

  • Fossil fuel reliance threatens national security and is changing global climate. It also harms the economy, damages the environment, and poses threats to the future of the Cape & Islands region. Local communities should be "working aggressively" toward energy independence.
  • Community-based processes should guide siting and installation of large-scale offshore wind, wave, and/or tidal projects not visible from land. Offshore renewables projects sited in local waters should offer local communities specific and substantive benefits.
  • A Cape & Islands renewable energy cooperative should be created with potential to buy green power at wholesale rates, own and operate energy projects and systems, and give residents and businesses direct control over its decisions.

The survey and a summary of consensus findings are available from www.cirenew.info/votingenergy. Unfortunately, not all candidates in contested races completed surveys. turbine_sunset

Differences in opinion among opposing candidates are summarized below.

4th Barnstable District: Malloy vs. Peake
Regardless of whether Aaron Maloy (R) or Sarah Peake (D) wins, communities from Provincetown to Harwich will be represented by someone with very progressive views on energy issues. Both candidates agreed to the consensus points detailed above, they categorized current and possible future adverse local impacts associated with continued reliance on fossil fuels as "extreme," and they indicated that the region "could become electricity independent within the next 10 to 15 years."  Further, both candidates offered conditional support for the offshore wind project in Nantucket Sound.

The candidates differed on the following questions:

  • What's the best way to increase reliance on renewable energy? (Respondents were asked to pick only two options among the four provided.) Maloy offered support for policies designed to accelerate the Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard and to increase subsides for renewable energy technologies. Peake offered support for policies designed to reduce subsidies for fossil fuel technologies and to increase subsidies for renewable energy technologies.
  • Do you support the pending extension of the operating license for the Pilgrim Nuclear Plant? Maloy answered no; Peake answered "unsure."
  • To meet growing regional demand for natural gas, which of the following do you support? (Respondents were asked to select among seven options, including projects proposed for Fall River, for an island in Boston Harbor, and off Gloucester.) Maloy only offered support for "constructing LNG capacity elsewhere in New England" and "exploring and possibly developing resources off the coast of Massachusetts." Peake only offered support for "expanding existing pipelines to increase imports from elsewhere."

Barnstable, Dukes & Nantucket District: Powell vs. Turkington
Falmouth, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket residents can choose among candidates with differences in opinion on numerous energy issues:

  • Jim Powell (R) agreed to each of the consensus points defined above, whereas Eric Turkington (D) affirmed all but one, opting to not express an opinion on whether or not to form an energy cooperative offering institutional capabilities required to maximize local benefits from renewables development.
  • Powell characterized current and possible future adverse impacts associated with fossil fuel reliance as "extreme," while Turkington is the only survey respondent viewing adverse impacts as "moderate."
  • Both don't believe the region can become electricity independent within 10 to 15 years, and both oppose the Cape Wind project. However, Powell offered support for the proposed wind energy project in Buzzards Bay.
  • Turkington is the only survey respondent who did not concur with the statement, "I support immediate action to increase investment in renewable energy."

Turkington filled out the entire survey, but he declined to make positive statements about renewable energy in several other areas.

The two candidates offered differing opinions in response to the following questions:

  • What's the best way to increase reliance on renewable energy? (Respondents were asked to pick only two options among the four provided.) Powell offered support for policies to increase subsidies for renewables and to "increase the cost of fossil fuels to reflect environmental, health, security, and climate considerations." Turkington supported only one option, reduced subsidies for fossil fuels. 
  • To meet growing electricity demand, what kinds of new, large-scale power plants should be constructed in Massachusetts? Powell offered support for natural gas, land-based wind, offshore wind, and bioenergy facilities. Turkington did not support the construction of anything.
  • To meet growing regional demand for natural gas, which of the following do you support? (Respondents were asked to select among seven options, including projects proposed for Fall River, for an island in Boston Harbor, and off Gloucester.) Powell offered support for a range of options, including building an LNG terminal in Fall River and exploring and possibly developing resources off the coast of Massachusetts. Turkington only offered support for expanded pipelines and for siting LNG capacity and resource development elsewhere.

Finally, Powell expressed interest in learning more about cleaner transportation options, cleaner/green heating options, green power purchasing, and solar/wind energy options for home or office use. Turkington did not want to be bothered.

10th Congressional District of Massachusetts: Delahunt vs. White
If Bill Delahunt (D) returns to the U.S. Congress or Peter White (I) storms Capitol Hill, the Cape & Islands region will be represented by someone with a progressive perspective on energy issues (no response was received from the Republican candidate, Jeff Beatty). Both candidates agreed to the consensus points detailed above, they categorized current and possible future adverse local impacts associated with continued reliance on fossil fuels as "serious" and "extreme," respectively, and they agreed that the region "could become electricity independent within the next 10 to 15 years." 

They voiced differing opinions on individual projects, with Delahunt opposing Cape Wind, offering the prospect of support for the Buzzards Bay wind project, and offering conditional support for relicensing of the Pilgrim plant. White supports the first two and opposes the latter.

The candidates also offered differing opinions on the following questions:

  • What's the best way to increase energy efficiency? (Respondents were asked to pick only two options among the four provided.) Delahunt offered support for policies that increase standards and subsidies for efficiency measures, while White offered support for increased standards and reduced subsidies for fossil fuels.
  • To meet growing electricity demand, what kinds of new, large-scale power plants should be constructed in Massachusetts? Delahunt offered support for natural gas, land-based wind, offshore wind, bioenergy, wave, and tidal facilities. White limited his endorsement to only green options.
  • To meet growing regional demand for natural gas, which of the following do you support? (Respondents were asked to select among seven options, including projects proposed for Fall River, for an island in Boston Harbor, and off Gloucester.) White did not endorse any options, while Delahunt supported expanding pipelines to increase imports and constructing LNG terminals off Gloucester and elsewhere in New England.

Next Steps
Consensus findings from the survey will applied by participants in the Cape & Islands Renewable Energy Collaborative (CIREC) to support coordinated community planning activities being conducted under grant funding from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. Consistent with CIREC's organizational objectives, these activities are intended to maximize benefits and minimize adverse impacts associated with energy supply and use in the Cape & Islands region.

Chris Powicki is principal of Water Energy & Ecology Information Services and president of Cape & Islands Renewable Energy Collaborative. He may be reached at [email protected] or 508.362.9599.

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