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With climate change widely considered to be one of the biggest threats to our security going into the new decade, presidential candidates have made sure to include policies on energy sources as part of their campaigns. Most candidates call for an end to new oil and gas leases, thereby preventing more oil and natural gas from being produced than is already being drilled for.

Major candidates who have called for this include former Vice President Joe Biden, senators Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar, Major Pete Buttigieg, Tom Steyer and Andrew Yang. These candidates also support an end to offshore drilling. Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris have called for a ban on all fracking nationwide, including pre-existing leases, a proposal which would likely require approval from Congress.

In regard to carbon emissions, there is a bit of a split between candidates over how strict federal regulation should be.  Biden, Buttigieg, Harris and Yang all agree on implementing a carbon tax as it is likely the best way to get businesses to reduce their emissions.  However, some claim that this is not drastic enough in order to reduce emissions in a short amount of time. Sanders, Warren and supporters of the Green Deal thus support imposing strict government regulation over businesses to cut emissions quickly.

Nuclear energy is also a key topic being discussed among those interested in different sources of energy for the future.  Nuclear energy is controversial because of disasters such as Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima. Many also write this potential source off as being too risky due to the threat that radioactive waste poses.

Both Sanders and Senator Tulsi Gabbard support the shutting down of existing nuclear reactors.  However, many other candidates, including Booker, Buttigieg, Klobachur and Yang, support nuclear power, saying that it is more reliable than sources such as wind or sunshine and, overall, is more efficient in energy production.  Biden and Harris go a step further by calling for further development of nuclear technologies to advance the power source and make it safer.

I personally agree with the majority of the democratic candidates on these issues.  I agree on stopping any new oil or natural gas leases from going into place, along with a ban on offshore drilling.  While the time issue is crucial to lessening the negative effects of climate change, I believe a carbon tax is the most efficient way to reduce emissions as neither businesses nor Congress are likely to support the kind of strict federal regulation that Warren and Sanders are calling for.  However, I do agree that fracking should be banned, despite the likelihood of any such bill actually getting passed.

Finally, I believe that investing in nuclear energy and further development of technology to make it safer is one of the best ways to transition to a completely clean energy economy.  Nuclear energy is very efficient and surprisingly safe overall, as disasters such as Chernobyl were due to infrastructure hazards and human error, while Fukushima became a disaster due to one of the strongest earthquakes and tsunamis in history.  If developed even more, nuclear energy can lead humanity into a prosperous future rid of fossil fuels as we continue working on making solar and wind power more efficient.

DISCLAIMER: This article is the sole opinion of Patrick Holden

Patrick Holden can be contacted at


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