Greenpeace Backgrounder: Climate, Energy, and Environmental Records of Leading Democratic Vice Presidential Candidates

Page - December 3, 2008
Greenpeace Backgrounder: Climate, Energy, and Environmental Records of Leading Democratic Vice Presidential Candidates

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius


Governor Sebelius has called for measures to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil imports by 40 percent by 2025.


The Sebelius administration denied a permit for two new coal-fired power plants in Kansas because the two plants would spew 11 million tons of carbon dioxide and other dangerous pollutants into the air every year – the first permit in the country denied because of concerns about the climate crisis. When the coal industry launched a massive PR and lobbying blitz, the Kansas legislature passed legislation to force through the construction of the coal plants, but Sebelius vetoed the legislation and the legislature was unable to override her veto. In addition to the major environmental benefits of her action, a study by Innovest Strategic Advisors Investors Fund subsequently found that Sebelius had also acted in the economic interests of her constituents. The action won major praise from environmentalists around the country.

Clean Energy

Governor Sebelius negotiated a voluntary clean energy standard with Kansas electric utilities, under which they’re required to get at least 10 percent of their energy from wind by 2010 and 20 percent by 2020. The state is on track to exceed the goal by 2010.

Sebelius supports a national clean energy standard requiring utilities to get 25 percent of their energy from clean energy sources by 2025. 

Additional Resources

Grist interview with Sebelius, July 10, 2008:

Virginia Governor Tim Kaine

Climate Crisis

Kaine has proposed returning Virginia’s greenhouse gas emissions levels to 2000 levels by 2025, a level far short of what scientists say is necessary to avoid climate catastrophe.


Kaine blocked an offshore drilling proposal in 2006. However, he has expressed support for doing away with the current federal ban on drilling off the Virginia coast, despite major concerns that drilling would threaten unspoiled islands near the Chesapeake Bay such as Assateague Island, as well as the ecology and fishing economy of the Bay, even though additional drilling would do little or nothing to bring down gas prices.


In the face of opposition from many Virginians, the Kaine administration approved a large, new coal-fired power plant in Wise County that violates the Clean Air Act because of the massive mercury, smog, and soot pollution it would create. The plant will also accelerate mountain top removal coal mining, in which coal companies blow up mountains and put the toxic waste or ‘fill’ in rivers and streams. An economic analysis by the Virginia State Corporation Commission found that the plant will cost $1.8 billion dollars, the cost of which will be passed onto ratepayers. According to the commission, the increased electricity costs will force Virginia businesses to lay off 1,478 workers (a number that has likely increased since Dominion’s construction costs estimate has risen $200 million since that figure was calculated). In contrast, the plant will only create 75 permanent jobs. The Kaine administration also approved an 18 percent increase in electricity rates largely due to rising coal costs. 

Kaine has close ties to Dominion Power and has accepted almost $250,000 in campaign contributions from them since 1996.


Governor Kaine supports expanded nuclear energy and has cited France as a model despite high costs, enduring safety issues and an accident on July 12 th in which a French nuclear facility spilled over 7,925 gallons into the land adjoining two rivers, causing the French government to order tests at all facilities in the country.  

Clean Energy

Governor Kaine has set non-binding goal for Virginia to get 25 percent of its energy from clean energy sources by 2025. 

Kaine’s administration has purchased 47,000 efficient compact fluorescent lightbulbs.

Delaware Senator Joseph Biden 

Climate Crisis

Biden is a cosponsor of the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act, which would reduce climate pollution 80 percent by 2050, the level scientists say is necessary to avoid climate catastrophe.

Biden favors a cap, auction and trade system for greenhouse gases and wants to use the proceeds to support large-scale development of clean energy resources. 


Biden has supported protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, America’s Serengeti.

Biden has opposed drilling off America’s fragile coasts. 


Biden opposes the construction of new coal-fired power plants that don’t capture and store their greenhouse gas emissions.

Biden has opposed subsidies to coal companies for turning coal into an automotive fuel,  an energy-intensive process that would produce up to double the global warming pollution of regular oil. However, he has supported exporting liquid coal to countries like China. 


Biden has opposed increased subsidies for nuclear power, although he believes nuclear could play a role in the future energy supply.

Biden has recognized some of the safety problems with nuclear energy and has called for tougher oversight of the government’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission. 

Clean Energy & Efficiency

Biden is a co-sponsor (with Senator Obama) of the Fuel Economy Reform Act, which would raise fuel efficiency standards to 40 mpg by 2017, reducing greenhouse gases significantly and save drivers over $1 trillion. 

Biden supports a Clean Energy Standard that would require utilities to produce 20 percent of their electricity from clean sources like wind, solar, and geothermal power by 2020.

LCV Score

In 2006, Biden had a lifetime score of 84 from the League of Conservation Voters. 

Additional Resources environemental profile and interview of Joe Biden:


Indiana Senator Evan Bayh


Bayh supported the Boxer-Lieberman-Warner climate legislation. 


Bayh sponsored an amendment to the 2007 energy bill to reduce oil consumption by 10 percent by 2031. 

Bayh has supported protection of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Bayh has opposed drilling in sensitive offshore areas.


Bayh has supported large subsidies for coal-to-liquids technology. 

Bayh has supported taxpayer subsidies for construction of massive new coal fired power plants that don’t capture their carbon emissions and increase other pollutants like smog, soot, and mercury. 

Clean Energy and Efficiency

Bayh has supported higher fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks to make them go further on a gallon of gas. 

Nuclear Energy

Bayh favors taxpayer subsidies for nuclear energy despite a history of radioactive leaks, cost overruns, and massive profits for the nuclear industry and although we have no permanent solution to the problem of hazardous nuclear waste.

Additional Resources

In 2006, Evan Bayh’s lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters was 73 percent. 

 Mufson, Steven. “Power Plant Rejected Over Carbon Dioxide For First Time” Washington Post. October 19, 2007. P. A1 (

 “Kansas Coal Lobby Attacks Natural Gas Industry” Hill Heat. November 5, 2007 (

 Rothschild, Scott. “Sebelius Coal Veto Stands” Lawrence Journal-World and News. May 2, 2008. (

 Fryer, Drew; Kane, Eric; and Lopez-Alcala, Mario. “Sunflower Electric Power: Carbon Risks Outweigh Benefits of Holcomb Expansion” Innovest Strategic Value Advisors. March, 2008. (

 Sheppard, Kate. “What’s not the matter with Kansas (interview with Governor Sebelius)” Grist. July 10, 2008.  (

 Walker, Julian. “Kaine forms panel charged with reducing emissions” The Virginian Pilot. December 22, 2007. (

 Tabor, Nicholas. “The Southern Difference” The Hotline. August 18, 2008.  (

  HYPERLINK "" \o "Send an e-mail to Steven Mufson and David A. Fahrenthold" Steven Mufson and David A. Fahrenthold “U.S. Proposal Would Allow Drilling Off Virginia.” The Washington Post. April 28, 2007 (

 “Legal challenges filed against Wise County Power Plant.” Southern Environmental Law Center. July 25, 2008. (

 Testimony of Mark K. Carsley, Division of Economics and Finance, State Corporation Commission,  cited by Southern Environmental Law Center ( HYPERLINK ""

 Testimony of Dominion Power Vice President E. Paul Hilton cited by Southern Environmental Law Center ( HYPERLINK "" 

 Kumar, Anita. “Dominion Rates to Rise 18%” Washington Post. June 28, 2008. (

 Craig, Tim. “Kaine Says Coal-Burning Power Plant Is Necessary” Washington Post. March 30, 2008.

 Samuel, Henry. “France Orders Tests on all Nuclear Stations after Leak” The DailyTelegraph. July 19, 2007. (

 Shapley, Dan. “Profile of Senator Joe Biden” Green Your Vote, 2008. (

 Griscom Little, Amanda. “Biden on the Record, Interview with Joe Biden” Grist August, 29, 2007. (

 “Gas from Coal? Even Dirtier” NRDC Analysis ( 

 Senate vote March 7, 2002 on reauthorization of Price-Anderson Act

 Griscom Little, Amanda. “Biden on the Record, Interview with Joe Biden” Grist August, 29, 2007. (

 “Energy and Climate Security” campaign web site (

 June 19, 2007 Senate Vote on Subsidizing Liquid Coal (Tester Amendment)

 Callahan, Rick. “Duke, Daniels Start Work on Coal Plant” Indianapolis Star. July 21, 2008. (

Senate Vote on Reauthorization of Price-Anderson Act, March 7, 2002.