Blogging Halfway McCain’s Global Warming concepts

John McCain’s speech and policy constructs on Global Warming have gotten a bit of attention from the Energy Smart blogging world. The following are few of the worthwhile discussions to date.

Wonkroom‘s MCCain Wants it Both Ways on Global Warming: Ends up attacking his own plan highlights the contradictions inherent in John McCain’s messaging, trying to create an appearance that he represents a middle way between Global Warming deniers and a strawman of those pursuing “crippling regulation”.  What is a McCain example of crippling regulation?  Increasing energy efficiency in building codes. Message John:  this is profitable path toward change.  That radically liberal group, the business consulting firm McKinsey & Company, “has found that mandatory energy efficiency standards, far from being crippling, overcome present market failures and policy distortions and can drive massive return on investment. Is McCain calling McKinsey “extreme”?”

Joe Romm at Climate Progress with  Speech, Part 1: Anti-wind McCain delivers climate remarks at foreign wind company highlighting the absurdity (and arrogance) of McCain giving the speech at the US HQ of a foreign wind turbine manufacturer.

Let’s be clear — conservatives like John McCain, or more accurately, conservatives including John McCain, are the main reason McCain has to go to a Danish wind turbine manufacturer to give a climate speech. With the major government investments in wind in the 1970s, the United States was poised to be a dominant player in what was clearly going to be one of the biggest job creating industries of the next hundred years. But conservatives repeatedly gutted the wind budget, then opposed efforts by progressives to increase it, and repeatedly blocked efforts to extend the wind power tax credit. ….

So the end result is McCain delivers his big climate talk at a foreign wind manufacturer. If McCain becomes president, we will take modest, but inadequate action on global warming (as his speech makes clear), but the job-creating clean technologies we will be using to fight climate change, will primarily be coming from other countries.

And, then there is Part 2: Relying on offsets = Rearranging chairs on the Titantic

McCain’s cost-containment strategy for his climate policy is a fraud. It substitutes a huge amount of low cost, phony emissions reductions both here and abroad — called offsets — for actual domestic emissions reductions. Offsets are “credits for reductions made from sectors of the economy outside the trading system.” … Ironically, one of the carbon offsets that McCain explicitly cites, no till farming, does not actually offset carbon emissions, according to the latest science.

Watthead’s John McCain Stumps on Climate from Stumptown, Oregon  which provides an excellent analysis of the speech and the plan’s inadequacies, but also highlights that this is a location without actual wind turbine manufacturing directly because of Republican (including Senator John McCain) efforts to stymie wind power production through opposition to the production tax credits. 

The irony of McCain’s choice of photo op locations is extremely rich considering that the last time the future of the PTC was uncertain, Vestas cancelled plans to build a Portland wind turbine manufacturing plant that would have employed up to 1,000 workers! It doesn’t get much better than that…

Eric de Place’s McCain’s Climate Plan: Better than Something Bad at FireDogLake which highlights how this speech was ” stunning rebuke it was to Bush and the GOP”. While a good post, Eric missed that ‘stunning rebuke’ and reporting on it is the central element of this plan in terms of McCain’s electoral political strategy.

Grist‘s Kate Sheppard letting us know how establishment environmental organizations reacted to McCain’s speech.

Many environmental leaders were glad to hear the GOP candidate talking specifics on climate action, but still had criticism for the particulars of his plan.

“We are entering the post-Bush era of climate politics.” Jeremy Symons, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s climate-change campaign

“To his credit, Sen. McCain wants to do something serious about global warming, but his proposal falls far short of what the science says we need to do today,” said League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski in a written statement. “He has not substantively improved his plan over the bill he introduced years ago — legislation that the science now shows is out of date.”

Grist‘s David Roberts discussing McCain’s Offsets.

To me the most striking element of McCain’s just-released carbon cap-and-trade plan is that it would, at least at the outset, allow regulated entities to achieve 100 percent of their emission reductions through the purchase of domestic or international offsets. By way of comparison, the Lieberman-Warner climate bill headed for the floor of the Senate caps the contribution of offsets at 15 percent, and requires that all the offsets be from domestic projects.

This is a genuinely radical feature of McCain’s plan, and it isn’t getting nearly enough press. …

McCain’s carbon policy will create a system that begs to be gamed and manipulated. The result will likely be many years of delay in generating the far-reaching changes the climate crisis requires.

Kevin Drum with John McCain and 100% Auctions, that highlights the difference between McCain’s concepts and Obama’s in terms of using the revenue from a cap-and-trade program.

It’s great that McCain acknowledges the reality of climate change and great that he acknowledges that we need to do something about it. But his cap-and-trade proposal is pretty weak tea.

So that’s that. A cap-and-trade system with a 100% auction provides revenue for green research; it reduces the regressivity of the tax hit; and it helps keep lobbyists from gaming the system. The giveaway method, conversely, is highly regressive; provides windfall profits for big polluters; and would almost certainly end up as a congressional pork barrel that eviscerated the original emission targets bit by bit by bit. It just goes to show that policy details matter. Take your pick.

Campaign for America’s Future with Bill Scher’s From Independent Maverick to Incoherent Conservative that tackles the contradictions within the speech and proposal.  For example,

If McCain is willing to invest your tax dollars in nuclear power to help fight global warming, why is he resisting investment in clean, renewable energy, like the wind power he used as a backdrop?

It doesn’t add up. It doesn’t amount to a clear policy vision. It’s simply incoherent.

Daily Kos frontpager Devilstower weighs in with McCain is So Different that reminds us of the difference between candidate George W Bush and President George W Bush in the climate change arena.  The piece concludes:

So, McCain proposes a weak, pointless bill.  One of his advisers suggests he won’t even stand by that proposal, while another argues that cheap energy trumps environmental concerns.  Boy, that sure is different.

As has already been demonstrated time and again, “maverick” McCain’s difference from the hard right extends as far as his words, and stops well short of his deeds.  Coming from McCain, any promise on climate change is nothing but hot air.

Matthew Yglesias comments that McCain Hearts Nukes that moves to an even more fundamental issue and question:

What I’d really like to hear from McCain is about a different departure from environmental orthodoxy — why, if he believes that global warming is a real problem that we should tackle by reducing carbon emissions, has he written a bill that doesn’t reduce emissions enough to tackle the problem? Presumably McCain’s belief about the nature of the problem comes from the same scientific sources as everyone else’s — so why’s he endorsing half-measures? Certainly if half-measures are the best you can get out of the legislative process a president should accept that, but why would you start with an inadequate long-term goal?

Here at Energy Smart, Halfway McCain: See Problem, not real solution which highlights how McCain has one foot in the reality-based world through acknowledging Global Warming but that his answers fall far short of what is required to actually deal with the challenges we face.  This disconnect, however, is not one that the ‘traditional (entertainment) media’ will discuss.

And, in contrast to the obstinate denial of reality by some many in the Republican Party, his direct statements recognizing the reality of Global Warming, that humanity is a driving factor, that this a real threat, and stating that this threat requires real action will be a breath of fresh air and will entice many to believe that McCain’s Straight Talk offers an opportunity for sensible policy moving forward.  And, almost assuredly, the media rapture for ‘Maverick’ McCain will continue with the reporting of this speech, with discussion almost certainly to come about his ‘courage’ and ‘leadership’ in the arena of Global Warming.

This, however, will distort the actual record and distort the actual prospects of the bill of goods that John McCain will attempt to sell when it comes to environmental, global warming, and energy policies.  Sadly, despite any great rhetoric, in this arena McFlip, McFlop McCain would almost certainly remain fundamentally McSame as George Bush when it comes to action re Global Warming.  When it comes to John McCain, his Green Straight Talk Express has proven to be a Dirty Energy Twisted Non-Action and Delay Machine.

These are just a few blogosphere reactions to Halfway McCain‘s concepts and speech. 


3 responses to “Blogging Halfway McCain’s Global Warming concepts

  1. I recognize McCain’s approach to tackling global warming comes short, and i will be supporting obama, and it’s important to distinguish who is truly green and who isn’t. However, you seem to only focus on bashing McCain when Obama and Clinton both have their own problems that worry me when it comes to Clinton’s constant talk of clean coal, and reluctance to declare an end to mountaintop removal. Not to mention Obama voting for the 2005 energy bill and Obama also doesn’t seem to be able to speak the truth on clean coal or take a firm stance on no more mountaintop removal. True McCain has these same shortcomings, but you only seem to be focusing on his own. We need to hold more than just McCain and Republicans accountable if we want to get good policy on climate change.

  2. Matt,

    I have written on strengths and weaknesses in all three of the candidates.

    In terms of questioning / challenging Clinton/Obama, I have raised serious questions about Clinton’s embracing of a gas tax holiday. On Obama, I’ve done a number of questioning pieces.

    Both Clinton and Obama are poor (to bad) when it comes to their pandering (it seems) on “Clean Coal” leading into the West Virginia primary and Clinton (worse than Obama) on Mountain Top Removal. Your prod I will take but FYI, I have several draft posts (half-written) on coal issues, including one on Obama/Clinton. Thus, I do agree that this merits more attention … including from me.

    I agree fully with the last sentence. We need to be working hard to prevent “bad” from governance and to move “reasonable” to good.

  3. Pingback: Greenwashed McCain: All sides call it dirty « Energy Smart

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