Beyond all of these carbonaceous considerations, of course, it is equally important that McCain and, presumably, Obama be pressed to detail their plans to create market incentives and mandates for renewable energy sources like solar, wind, geothermal, and biologic. As they do that, they must also talk about how those systems will mesh with the nation’s ailing power grid (a vital infrastructure question that has been totally ignored).

We need more specifics about the candidates’ cap-and-trade plans. That is especially true now that the Lieberman-Warner bill, which both McCain and Obama said they would have supported had they not missed the cloture vote, is dead in the water. As (again) The Wall Street Journal put it this week in what was probably the most detailed post-primary article about energy issues, their “goals may sound similar, but the candidates would pursue drastically different paths to achieve them.” And finally, McCain and Obama must outline what they think the U.S. negotiating position should be regarding an international emissions reductions treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol. With those answers in mind, voters will have a much better understanding of the energy options that will affect their futures when they go to the polls in November.

Turning Point:

Part One: Scandal! Oh, Nevermind

Part Two: Let’s get serious

Part Three: The Supreme Court

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Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.