Will Presidential Debates Keep Ducking Conservation?

First Presidential Debate (via University of Denver)
Despite over 160,000 people calling for climate change to be discussed at last night’s presidential debate, moderator Jim Lehrer never asked about climate change and Barack Obama and Mitt Romney didn’t bring it up. With three debates now left to go, will we get an honest discussion of the crisis that’s pushing wildlife to the brinkfueling extreme weather, and threatening America’s public health, economy and national security?

Conservation barely came up at all, an omission that was all the more glaring given that the debate was held in Colorado. Hundreds of thousands of acres in Colorado burned this summer in wildfires that are becoming more common and more intense due to global warming. And as the candidates discuss expanded oil and gas drilling, a new National Wildlife Federation poll of sportsmen shows they’re concerned public lands are in the crosshairs.

And when clean energy did come up, as the Washington Post reports, it was falsely attacked:

The Energy Department put $90 billion worth of grants, loan guarantees and loans into what it calls a “clean energy” economy. But that money is spread widely: About $3 billion went to carbon capture and storage projects needed to make coal “clean,” a goal Romney shares; about $11 billion went to energy efficiency; about $5 billion went to clean up old nuclear weapons sites; about $4 billion went to modernizing the electricity grid; and about $2 billion went to research and development, which Romney has also supported. DOE has a breakdown here.

Romney said that Obama sent money to firms whose executives had donated to his campaign. That is true in the case of Solyndra, but while House Republicans have harshly criticized the administration for that, investigations have not revealed any direct link between the loans for Solyndra and campaign support for the president.

In addition, a significant portion of the money the Energy Department distributed came in the form of loans, some of which will be paid back.

Here’s hoping conservation comes into focus at the rest of the debates:

Vice presidential debate (domestic & foreign policy):
Thursday, October 11
Centre College, Danville, KY
Moderator: Martha Raddatz, Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent, ABC News
Second presidential debate (town meeting format):
Tuesday, October 16
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY
Moderator: Candy Crowley, Chief Political Correspondent, CNN and Anchor, CNN’s State of the Union
Third presidential debate (foreign policy):
Monday, October 22
Lynn University, Boca Raton, FL
Moderator: Bob Schieffer, Chief Washington Correspondent, CBS News and Moderator, Face the Nation
In the meantime, you can check out President Obama’s responses and Governor Romney’s plans in National Wildlife magazine’s Special Report: Where the Presidential Candidates Stand on Conservation.