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The Huge Gap Between McCain's Rhetoric and Actions on Global Warming and Energy Policy

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-24-08 10:54 PM
Original message
The Huge Gap Between McCain's Rhetoric and Actions on Global Warming and Energy Policy
Edited on Tue Jun-24-08 11:16 PM by Time for change
From the beginning of the race for the Republican Party nomination, John McCain usually led all Republican candidates in-head to-head polling against Democrats, even when his polling amongst the Republican candidates was only mediocre. The reason for that is clear. McCain has carefully crafted a reputation as a maverick and a moderate over his long career, which has endeared him to many independents and even some Democrats, as few other Republicans have. I voted for him myself in the 2000 Maryland primary in his race against George W. Bush, and I had to change my Party registration to do so.

His position on global warming is a case in point. I have received mail from McCain emphasizing the need to do something about global warming, and asking for donations. As recently as June of this year McCain gave a speech emphasizing the importance of combating global warming, while separating himself from George W. Bush on the issue, and even some Democrats whom he claims are in the pocket of special interests:

With forward thinking Democrats and Republicans, I proposed a climate change policy that would greatly reduce our dependence on oil. Our approach was opposed by President Bush, and by leading Democrats, and it was defeated by opposition from special interests that favor Republicans and those that favor Democrats.

On the subject of energy independence, McCain had this to say in a speech at a town hall meeting in Denver on May 2, 2008:

My friends, I will have an energy policy that we will be talking about, which will eliminate our dependence on oil from the Middle East that will that will then prevent us that will prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East.

Whoa!! I thought that the reason that McCain wants us to stay in Iraq for the next thousand years is that its part of our War on Terror. But I digress.

My point is that McCain has long used rhetoric to pose as a maverick and a moderate, and thats the only reason that he stands any kind of chance of winning the Presidency this year. His supposed differences from George W. Bush on the issue of global warming are a major part of that pose.

So lets take a look at the vast gap between his rhetoric on global warming and energy independence and the reality of his proposals and actions.


McCain on offshore oil drilling

A desire to combat global warming and make our country energy independent at the same time can of course be mutually reinforcing goals as long as ones plans for energy independence involve something other than measures that encourage the burning of fossil fuels. But with the current economic troubles associated with the rising price of oil, McCain is suddenly recommending measures that encourage the burning of fossil fuels, including a temporary gas tax holiday and, more important recommendations for offshore drilling.

Until recently John McCain had been against offshore oil drilling. But then on June 17th he said this:

We must embark on a national mission to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil, McCain told reporters yesterday. In a speech today, he plans to add that we have untapped oil reserves of at least 21 billion barrels in the United States. But a broad federal moratorium stands in the way of energy exploration and production. . . . It is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions.

Barack Obama was quick to point out the inconsistency in McCains new position, lauding him for his support of the offshore drilling moratorium in 2000, but noting with respect to his new position:

But his decision to completely change his position and tell a group of Houston oil executives exactly what they wanted to hear today was the same Washington politics that has prevented us from achieving energy independence for decades.

Not only would McCains new plan for offshore oil drilling set back the cause of combating global warming and destroy much of our coastline, but it would do very little to reduce the price of oil, even in the long run.

At the current world use of 86 million barrels of petroleum per day, the long term maximum of about 19 billion barrels that we could obtain from offshore oil drilling of all known U.S. sources of oil outside of Alaska (which McCain has not yet recommended opening up to oil drilling), which would add only 7% to our current oil production, would last only about 220 days and therefore have little effect on the price of oil. Furthermore, our own U.S. Energy Information Administration had this to say about the situation in their recent report:

The projections in the OCS (outer continental shelf) access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030. Any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.

And in any event, it is not a lack of current oil reserves that has accounted for the rising price of oil, but rather oil speculation.


McCain other actions and proposals with respect to global warming

But even if we forget about McCains recent flip flops on offshore oil drilling, a look at his record reveals that his plans and actions have never been consistent with his rhetoric on global warming. Just what does McCain plan to do about global warming other than use it as a subject of his rhetoric to help him maintain his image as a maverick?

On capping greenhouse gas emissions
Mark Hertsgaard explains some of the problems with McCains plan to combat global warming. Noting that Obamas plan for an 80% cut on greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, using a cap-and-trade system that sells corporations permits to emit greenhouse gases and then invests the revenue in green energy development and rebates to Americans hit with higher energy prices, is consistent with what scientists say is necessary, Hertsgaard notes that McCain:

supports a 60 percent emissions cut by 2050. But it is doubtful that McCain's approach would actually deliver such large cuts, since his cap-and-trade system would give most permits away free, a provision environmentalists attack as a corporate giveaway.

In other words, aside from advocating a much smaller cut in emissions than Obama, McCain seems to hold the opinion that purely voluntary cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by industry will work. And furthermore, he doesnt even appear to understand the difference. Joseph Romm explains:

In a recent Republican debate, he (McCain) denied that a cap and trade system is a mandate, even though it would arguably be the most far-reaching government mandate ever legislated. Moreover, like most conservatives, he doesn't understand or accept the critical role government must play to make that system succeed.

The roles of judges, including the U.S. Supreme Court justices
McCains affiliation for anti-environment Supreme Court justices poses another big obstacle to the success of any efforts he might advance as President to combat global warming, especially considering that John Paul Stevens is now 87 years old and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is in bad health.

McCain has made it abundantly clear that he plans to appoint judges who are what he calls strict constructionists and wont legislate from the bench, meaning ones like Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Roberts. Yet in a recent case where the USSC ruled in a 5-4 decision that the EPA has the responsibility to regulate carbon dioxide as an air pollutant, Scalia (joined by McCains three other favorite USSC justices) argued in dissent that carbon dioxide, which is alleged to be causing global climate change, is not an air pollutant.

McCain on clean energy development
When McCain was asked his opinion on subsidies for clean energy technology such as wind and solar, he said:

I'm not one who believes that we need to subsidize things. The wind industry is doing fine, the solar industry is doing fine. In the '70s, we gave too many subsidies and too much help, and we had substandard products sold to the American people, which then made them disenchanted with solar for a long time Theres a point where you should let the free-enterprise system take over.

Yet, McCain has sponsored legislation, The 2007 Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act, in collaboration with Joe Lieberman, which would provide $3.7 billion in subsidies for nuclear power plants.

Energy efficiency
Another essential part of any comprehensive energy plan to lower greenhouse gas emissions is energy efficiency. Joseph Romm points to Californias program as a model in this area, noting that the average Californian generates one third of green house gas emissions as the average American, while maintaining the same electricity costs. He notes the following components as the reasons for their remarkable achievement:

 The strongest building-energy codes in the country
 A state energy commission that oversees subsidies and deployment programs for energy efficiency and renewable energy
 The toughest air pollution regulations in the country
 Smart utility regulations

Romm notes that Obamas plan is very specific in these areas, whereas McCain has no plans for improving energy efficiency at all, though he does sometimes use the words energy efficiency.

McCains voting record
Most surprising of all, given McCains positioning himself as a maverick on global warming, is his actual voting record. The non-partisan League of Conservation Voters (LCV) gives him a 24% lifetime score for his global warming policies, and a 0% score for 2007. His overall environmental score with the League of Conservation voters was 0% for 2007.

Then there were two recent instances (December 2007 and February 2008) where the Senate missed by one vote an effort to end a filibuster that would have provided billions of dollars for clean energy incentives. Those two examples of 59-40 failures had one thing in common: McCain was the only Senator who didnt vote. And for one of those votes he was in Washington D.C. at the time.


McCain and big oil donations

Why would John McCain, who is one of the few Republican Senators to acknowledge global warming as a serious problem for our country and the world, fail so abysmally to act in accordance with his rhetoric over such a long period of time? One reason must be that, as a conservative Republican, he simply doesnt understand the role that government has in managing such a complex problem as global warming. He seems to feel that the free market can be trusted to take care of most of the problem. To put it bluntly, he seems not to have much of an understanding of the problem, period.

But perhaps there is also another reason. Perhaps the fact that John McCain leads all other U.S. Senators and all other Presidential candidates in campaign contributions from big oil has something to do with it. Why would he receive so many contributions from big oil companies? Certainly his dependence on them for campaign contributions at least partially explains his 24% lifetime score on global warming by the League of Conservation Voters.

To mention a couple of specifics: A few months after the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill, a bill to require double hulls on tankers over 20,000 tons (Valdez was a single hull tanker), in order to prevent future similar disasters, was narrowly defeated in the Senate, with the help of McCains vote. David Roberts points out that Exxon is today the only oil company that doesnt use double hulled tankers to ship oil out of Alaska.

Another example is when McCain failed to join Obama, most other Democrats, and some Republicans to vote for a bill that would have required a small amount of oil industry profits to go towards the development of alternative energy.


What if McCain is elected President of the United States?

John McCains reputation as an independent minded Senator, a maverick who frequently goes against his party to do whats right for his country, a moderate and a straight shooter are all myths that have little basis in fact. David Brock and Paul Walden demolish that myth in their book, Free Ride: John McCain and the Media. McCains ridiculously inconsistent stances on global warning and energy policy, in particular the vast gap between his rhetoric versus his policies and actions, are enough by themselves to prove that point though Brock and Walden have plenty additional light to shed on the matter.

It is disgraceful that the United States, which is responsible for one fourth of the greenhouse gas emissions in the world, is the only industrialized nation in the world that is not a party to the Kyoto protocol. More than disgraceful, it portends a continuous unfolding world-wide disaster.

John McCains campaign has recently been running commercials that actually paint McCain as some sort of Al Gore on the issue of global warming. What a travesty! Unless McCain does a 180 degree turn on several environmental issues that influence global warming, a McCain Presidency will ensure the unabated continuance of major U.S. contributions to global warming and severely impede the likelihood that global warming will be substantially combated prior to the onset of catastrophic flooding of the worlds coastal regions and world-wide droughts leading to massive human starvation and death on a magnitude never previously seen.
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DCKit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-25-08 12:16 AM
Response to Original message
1. Well stated and proof that we don't have to get as filthy as the Pubs
in order to discredit them. Not when you stick to the facts, anyway.
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Gabi Hayes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-25-08 12:21 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. you know what Harry Truman had to say along those lines, do you?
I'd like to know when McCain started to get past his ZERO rating from The League of Conservation Voters
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-25-08 09:16 AM
Response to Reply #2
5. He hasn't gotten past it. Here's a recent statement from LCV
In the past, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) has applauded Senator John McCain for his leadership on climate change, and endorsed him in the 2004 Republican Presidential Primary. Unfortunately, McCains current proposals fall well short of addressing the challenge of global warming and his lifetime 24% LCV score shows a wavering commitment to Americas environment.

It seems that John McCain hopes to use global warming and the environment to distance himself from the Bush Administration, LCV President Gene Karpinski said. But until he explains why hes only voted for the environment one out of four times, and until he promises to sign effective global warming legislation, that distance can be measured in inches.


http://www.lcv.org/newsroom/press-releases/lcv-asks-sen...

So, what did Truman have to say about this?

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Gabi Hayes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-25-08 01:11 PM
Response to Reply #5
9. maybe it was apocryphal, cause I can't find the exact quote, but it went something like this:
If the republicans will stop lying about the democrats, I'll stop telling the truth about the republicans
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-25-08 05:52 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. McCain is so easily discredited that he discredits himself
All you have to do to discredit him is run tapes of him spouting off about things he knows nothing about, and show his record.
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EOTE Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-25-08 06:47 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Yes, that is all you have to do, but who is going to do it?
Sure, Keith will. But who else in the media has the decency to actually call McCain on his bullshit? The McCain ads they've been running in Maryland are an absolute joke. Just as you noted, they're truly trying to paint him as an environmentalist on the level of Al Gore. I literally laughed out loud when I saw the ad, but then became disgusted because it was so far from the truth. And now the MSM is trying to paint Obama as the 'media creation'. The projection the MSM uses is beyond sad. If we had a legitimate fourth estate, Obama would win 400+ electoral votes in November. Recommended.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-25-08 11:13 AM
Response to Reply #4
6. If we had a legitimate 4th estate George Bush's vote total in both election would have been
in single digits.

So, the MSM is painting Obama as a media creation -- meaning their own creation? How do they explain that?

Anyhow, I take solace in the polls, which show Obama expanding his lead to landslide (or at least fraud proof) proportions:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/maps/obama_vs_m...

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/polls/
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EOTE Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-25-08 11:31 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. No one ever said that the media was terribly rational or consistent.
Who's going to call them on the idiocy of the attacks? The media?

Those polls do provide me with some hope. However, it will just make it an even greater travesty if the election manages to be stolen this time around too. I mean, what will happen if all windsocks point to an Obama landslide and yet somehow McCain pulls through? And then the media spouts off some line about how the exit polls were wrong again this time around because nobody wants to admit that they voted against the black guy?

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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-25-08 01:11 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. If they do that, they're going to have a hard time explaining how Obama did so well in the
primaries.

He not only won, but he set all time records. There many primaries where he received more votes than all Republican candidates combined.

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