Richardsonmania

I attended a big speech by Bill Richardson, the unknown candidate, this morning where he put forward an extremely ambitious energy and climate change agenda that, I believe, will also be released in greater detail on his website soon. I also got a chance to talk to Richardson a bit before the speech and, of course, the trick with something like that is that almost all even moderately successful politicians are pretty charismatic, but nonetheless he seemed very impressive.

I particularly liked his insistence on the idea that most people underplay the role of transportation and land use policy in the energy puzzle. This was appealing because it's what I already thought, but Richardson said it totally unprompted, and it's true. More fuel efficiency is good, and more renewable energy is also good, but we're also going to need people to drive less. And that's going to mean that we'll need policies that make it realistic for people to do so -- mass-transit, but also transit-friendly, high-density constructions.

At any rate, if you've been following this blog you'll know I'm not really much of an environmentalist in my gut. But when you look at it, whatever's in your gut, it'd still be really nice for the world not to perish in cataclysmic climate change in the 2060s and that's going to require dramatic policies. Richardson's ambition on this score is particularly noteworthy because he isn't much of a lefty on domestic issues generally -- he had a pretty conservative, business-friendly record in New Mexico. That leaves his priorities clear. He told reporters after the speech that on his first day in office the troops are coming out of Iraq (presumably, in practice, this would take more than one day to execute) and then on the second the energy mandates start coming down.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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