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While President Obama clearly won last night’s Town Hall debate, the biggest loser was not Mitt Romney. Rather, it was the environment.

It was disconcerting to hear both men argue about who could drill more on Federal land, or who could mine more dirty coal.

Renewable energy like solar, wind, and geothermal only received lip service from both candidates with no specific plans divulged.

Romney did talk about energy independence. But his plan involves more dependence on drilling and mining – both processes are environmentally hostile to the land, air, and water. Note that Romney keeps talking about North American energy independence – not (U.S.) American energy independence. Is his plan to replace Saudi Arabia with Canada as our source of dirty energy? While I’d rather see our dollars go north to help fund Canada’s (gasp!) socialized medical care than have it go to the sheiks, a far better solution would be to help balance the trade deficit by promoting indigenous energy sources.

No single issue exists in isolation. Promoting clean energy development to make it affordable helps energy-dependent businesses, improves the health of Americans through clean air and water, and creates millions of jobs. I would have liked to see the President outline an Apollo-like program with specific energy independence goals that would include boosting the training of scientists and engineers in the energy field, promoting science in the elementary schools, and providing businesses with incentives for them to act as co-investors in this important initiative. This could all be paid for by the elimination of the billions of dollars we spend subsidizing dirty fuels.

We need not only to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but we need to reduce our dependence on dirty fuel. Neither candidate convinced me that he has a plan.

Cross-Posted from deciminyan.org

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