Thursday, October 16, 2014

NY-21 Candidates Answer Climate Change Questions

Protect the Adirondacks sent a questionnaire to each of the three candidates running for Congress in New York’s 21st Congressional District, which includes the Adirondack Park and northern New York, about their positions on climate change issues.

The questionnaire included seven questions and was sent to Green Party candidate Matt Funicello, Republican Party candidate Elise Stefanik, and Democratic Party candidate Aaron Woolf.  The climate change questionnaire was sent to each campaign on September 25th. Woolf and Funicello submitted their answers, while the Stefanik campaign has been unresponsive despite repeated emails and phone calls.

Do you believe that climate change is real and is caused by human use of fossil fuels?

Funicello: Yes, I do. And while I feel there may well be many other reasons adding to this impending and continuing crisis, I am fully of the belief that taking action to reduce fossil fuel dependency and limit emissions only makes sense.

Stefanik: No response.

Woolf: Yes. On climate change, the science is clear: our planet is warming significantly, human activity is a major driver of the process, and rising temperatures will lead to increasingly serious and widespread environmental consequences if we do not take action.


Do you support new laws or regulations to reduce carbon emissions? If so, what will you do to help create new laws or regulations to reduce carbon emissions?


Funicello: Yes. But I also feel that new requirements and regulations should come with transitional allowances for industry so that we are not putting undue stress on our barely surviving manufacturers or creating unemployment.

Stefanik: No response.

Woolf: I agree that it is essential that we set ambitious goals for reduction of all pollutants that contribute to climate disruption. Nonetheless, carbon is only one of those elements. A holistic approach to addressing climate needs to take into account all the activities to contribute to the phenomenon.  A proper action plan on climate also deserves an analysis of the costs of NOT addressing these concerns. I believe that by developing a plan that accounts for the need to protect the environment, conserve energy, and create jobs, we can both sustain our economy and improve our environment.

I will co-sponsor and vote for legislation that sets ambitious but attainable carbon pollution goals, while also recognizing that many businesses and farmers in the 21st district will be affected by such laws; we need legislation that provides the resources, practical and financial, to assist those who will be affected by the transition away from carbon-based energy production.


What is your position on the EPA’s draft Clean Power Rule currently in public hearing?

Funicello: I have not yet taken a position on the CPR at this time.

Stefanik: No response.

Woolf: While I support the goals of the proposed Clean Power Rule, I am concerned by any broad policy changes effected through the executive branch. Congress must take responsibility and vote to give the EPA direction in this matter.

The EPA has an important mandate to protect Americans from pollution and should be fully funded and supported in its mission by Congress.  While I support the goals of the proposed Clean Power Rule, I am concerned by any broad policy changes effected through the Executive Branch.  Congress must take responsibility and vote to give the EPA direction in this matter.  I am particularly concerned about pollutants that cross state lines in the air and contaminate our Adirondack streams and rivers, where our tourism and agriculture economies depend on a clean environment.  It is essential that we consider how we can transition to cleaner energy generation in a way that does not cause undue hardship on our economy.


What is your position on the Keystone XL pipeline project?

Funicello: I am 100% against Keystone XL.

Stefanik: No response.

Woolf: I support the Keystone XL project because, in the short-term, continued fossil fuel use must be part of our overall energy needs.  Especially with the recent dangers we have seen transporting of crude oil by rail car in and around our district, we need to explore methods to ensure safer transit options for crude oil.  Nonetheless, I am concerned that the focus on pipelines distracts us from our long-term energy strategy.  Profits must be directed towards developing renewable energy sources such as solar, biomass, and other renewable energy sources to help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.


What is your position on the expansion of crude oil processing at the Port of Albany and an increase in transportation by railroad through the Adirondacks of Bakken crude oil?

Funicello: I am 100% against the Albany processing plant and against the bomb trains and against shipping this highly flammable crude here (even if we ban the DOT-111’s).

Stefanik: No response.

Woolf: Several tragic accidents in America and Canada have shown that our current safety standards for transporting hazardous materials by rail, including crude oil, are woefully inadequate. The DOT must take immediate action to begin retiring the dangerous DOT-111A tanker cars, and establish operational protocols that reduce the risk of derailments.


If elected on the House of Representatives, what will you do on the issue of climate change in your first year in office?

Funicello: If elected as the first Green ever in the U.S. House, it will give environmentalists a massive boost in national coverage for their issues. I would use that bully pulpit to advocate for an end to oil subsidies and for the Green Party’s 100% sustainable and renewable by 2030 energy platform.

Stefanik: No response.

Woolf: I will introduce legislation that increases investment in alternative fuels like biomass, which is used to great effect in the 21st district, especially at Ft. Drum. Our district has proven the viability and efficiency of clean power generation, and this promising area must not be ignored.



Please add any other statement you would like to make about the issue of climate change.

Funicello: My friend Pete is a Green who cycles and walks and takes public transportation everywhere he goes. As a self-described “recovering Republican”, Pete was asked by his brother (still very much a Republican and a climate science denier), “What if you people are wrong and temperatures are cyclical and this is all just hysteria?” Pete’s answer, “What if I AM wrong? I’m in great shape. I save lots of money. I meet cool people on the bus and the train I would never meet otherwise. I read. I get fresh air when I ride or walk. What do I have to lose by leaving my car at home?” I believe that Pete’s response to his brother is the one we should all give to those who are skeptical about climate change when thinking about our governmental behavior as well. What do we have to lose by crafting legislation that creates cleaner air, water and soil?

Stefanik: No response.

Woolf: Climate change is a global issue and affects every nation on earth. While America cannot reverse the effects of climate change alone, we can and should be a leader in renewable energy. We must not stand by and allow other nations to reap the economic benefits of early investment in the clean energy economy. America cannot act alone, and we cannot expect the world to act without our economic and political leadership.


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18 Responses

  1. Paul J says:

    Or don’t answer, as the case may be.

  2. scottvanlaer says:

    Interesting. Elise is very active on social media and I asked her several questions regarding her position on climate change via Twitter but did not receive a response. Granted she is very busy and can’t respond to every social media question she gets but she answered several unrelated questions from me via that format.

  3. Tom Vawter says:

    Thanks, “Protect” for asking the questions on this important issue, and thanks, “Almanack” for publishing the questions and answers–or non-answers, as the case may be. This is perhaps the most important issue facing the US Government, and candidates are rightly called on to state their positions.

  4. Onno Oerlemans says:

    It’s stunning, but perhaps not surprising, that Stefanik does not respond to questions on climate change. So-called conservatives around the country deny, obfuscate, and duck on these questions, even though the burning of fossil fuels is one of the most egregious ways that older and current generations are stealing from future generations. Republicans are proving yet again that they are the party of willed ignorance and denial.

  5. Curt Austin says:

    Plywood prices go up whenever a hurricane reaches shore. I would not underestimate Stefanik’s capacity for cynicism.

  6. John Sullivan says:

    Good job, Protect. Stefanik has demonstrated several times that if she doesn’t like the question, she won’t answer. Or that, if there is no handy canned reply, she chooses to run away (as she did in Glens Falls). Surely not my candidate.

  7. Paul says:

    It is astonishing that it is even required to ask such questions. To me this seems like asking candidates questions like “does the the earth revolve around the sun?”. My guess is that may not be why one of the candidates is avoiding the question!

    But with that said we do have to deal with the issue that some people will remain ignorant of the facts despite their existence. And many of them will be elected to office.

    So what do we do? It seems pretty simple to me we look toward solutions that can be implemented despite these issues. The idea of moving away from fossil fuels entirely sounds good at a protest but it is a total fantasy when you look at the politics, and you can’t ignore the politics.

    I am not suggesting this but if we moved entirely from coal to natural gas for electricity production, with that one move we could quickly exceed the the carbon emission reduction goals we have set for the US. Despite this natural gas is a something that groups like say must be cut to zero. That would be fine if there was the renewable capacity and infrastructure available but there isn’t. We are working on it, too slowly, but again you gotta deal with reality. Unless you just want to argue.

    A recent PNAS paper had some potentially good news. It shows that we have underestimated the amounts of carbon that can be sequestered by plants. I personally think the solution (and one that can work politically) is sequestration. The carbon that we take out of the ground and put into the air needs to be put back into the ground or be used in ways that doesn’t put it into the atmosphere. Companies can actually make money doing this so you don’t have to convince some politicians that the earth is not the center of the universe to get them to act.

    I am pretty convinced that politicians are not going to play much of a role in solving this problem so that means that we have to find a solution without them.

  8. jay says:

    At the rate the current government is going-There will be no USA left to worry about a climate change-man mad or otherwise.We have our priorities all wrong.If my history is right about 10,000 years ago we were under 2 miles of ice.There were no cars then and it still melted.How do you explain that ? Maybe it was Mastodon farts.

    • Paul says:

      There are natural and man made changes to the climate. In that sense the first question is a bit loaded. You can have an impact (positive or negative) on the latter but not the former. Why wouldn’t you want to fix the part of the problem that we have created?

      As far as making comparisons to things like glacial periods (the “ice age”) that is irrelevant to the type of climate change we are talking about here. Yes, we are in an “interglacial” period right now and it is predicted that the earth will eventually cool again. But by “eventually” we are talking about many many thousands of years from now. These other changes are very rapid and are being caused by what we are doing.

  9. Stefanik eagerly dodges real questions from the media. Woolf answers them but with vague, generic answers, relentless straddling the fence. Funiciello is widely praised, even by establishment media sources, for his openness and substance. Agree or disagree with Funiciello’s ideas, we the voters would benefit if his opponents shared his candor.

    • Paul says:

      “Funicello: I have not yet taken a position on the CPR at this time.”

      Seems like the only real “vague” answer from either him or Woolf?

      • Fair point on this one single issue. Yet when he isn’t sure, he simply says he isn’t sure. That’s being direct. He doesn’t take several sentences throwing bones to people on both sides of the issue without actually saying anything.

  10. Running George says:

    Stefanik is clearly a climate denier. While Woolf talks a good game, his support for both the Keystone pipeline and fracking suggests that he really doesn’t “get it” or is more concerned about politics than the issue.
    Funiciello is the only candidate with a clear grasp of climate change.
    Thanks to Protect for this survey of the candidates.

  11. jay says:

    To even think that man has the ability to change the climate means you have not learned the definition of climate or it is the ultimate ego trip.Come back in 10000 years and we will review.

  12. Wayno says:

    Used to be that Republicans were allowed to accept the science on climate change. At one time Romney, McCain and Gingerich have all been on the record as admitting it was real, but they have all been forced to recant. The coal and gas lobby money (especially the Koch bros) seem to mean more to them than the future they will be leaving to their grandchildren. Their willful ignorance of this science is scandalous, yet it seems to be a prerequisite to endorsement by the current GOP, which explains why Stefsnik refuses to answer.

  13. Charlie S says:

    jay says: At the rate the current government is going-There will be no USA left to worry about a climate change-man mad or otherwise.We have our priorities all wrong.

    >> So what else is new Jay? And what do you propose we do to make things better? Hope for a republican president so as to solve our woes? The last time we did that we invaded a harmless country illegally and look at the price we’ve been paying since.Look at how much horribly worse we americans made things in that part of the world.Us proud americans!

  14. Charlie S says:

    jay says: To even think that man has the ability to change the climate means you have not learned the definition of climate or it is the ultimate ego trip.

    Nope not us polluting humans Jay with our big egos and small minds….no way in the world it could be due to us.

  15. jay says:

    Take your science and talk to China and India and see how far you get with your climate change. Thank God we still can get our cell phones from them.

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