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Think You Know John McCain?

His environmental record doesn’t match his voting record

Jul. 2, 2008
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Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain has promised to make the United States
energy independent so that the country can reduce its dependence on foreign fossil fuels and rely on cleaner, greener technologies for our cars, homes and economy.

But McCain’s promises on the stump and TV ads do not match his record in Congress. Nor will his policies result in a greener, more vibrant economy. In fact, they may increase America’s dependence on oil, and do little to nothing to spur new investment in mass transit andgreen er technologies, newly attractive options as gas reaches record high prices.

Refusal to Vote on Environmental Legislation
McCain introduced his energy policy last week as The Lexington Project, saying, “When we buy foreign oil, we are enriching some of our worst enemies. And in the Middle East, Venezuela and elsewhere, these regimes know how to use the power of that wealth. In the case of Iran, despite our own sanctions, they use it to pursue nuclear weapons.”

Unfortunately for McCain, his Lexington Project is littered with misinformation and, what’s more, advocates policies that he refused to support in the U.S. Senate. In fact, when the Arizona senator had the opportunity to vote for higher auto fuel standards, repeal tax breaks for Big Oil and ensure that the environmental impacts of ethanol production would be closely watched, he didn’t act.

According to the nonpartisan League of Conservation Voters (LCV), McCain did not vote on any legislation in 2007 relating to the environment, either for or against, despite there being 15 environmental bills up for vote in the Senate that year. In January 2008, McCain refused to vote for legislation that included clean energy initiatives.

That bill was one vote short of advancing in the Senate. Had McCain, who was in Washington at the time, voted for it, those incentives would have been acted on.

It’s no wonder that McCain earned a 0% rating from the LCV last year. His lifetime LCV voting record on environmental issues is a mere 24%.

The Lexington Project’s Problems
McCain’s Lexington Project contains nothing new, but is more of a collection of the various promises McCain has made while on the stump. But it contains a number of troubling statements and proposals, and some are in direct contradiction to his record in the Senate:

Asserting that the United States buys oil from some of our “worst enemies.”
According to statistics from the federal government, the five top crude oil and petroleum exporters to the United States are Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Nigeria and Venezuela. The United States has banned oil imports from Iran since 1979.

Opening the Outer Continental Shelf to oil and natural gas exploration.
Yet McCain did not vote on Virginia Sen. John Warner’s amendment to do this very thing in 2007. Besides, McCain’s proposal would do little to relieve pain at the pump now, or in the next decade, and could result in environmental degradation of some of the nation’s favorite—and fragile—shores, beaches and waters.

Claiming that “John McCain has long supported CAFE standards,” or mileage requirements for car manufacturers.
Yet when McCain had the opportunity to vote to raise mileage standards last year, the senator was a no-show.

Supporting cleaner energy sources.
Again, McCain’s rhetoric doesn’t match his record. When in 2007 McCain could have voted to set a 15% national standard for renewables by 2020, he didn’t act. Yet McCain’s Lexington Project would commit $2 billion a year to advancing clean coal technologies—a boon for the coal industry.Unfortunately, McCain isn’t willing to make the same investment in solar, hydro or wind technologies. Instead, he’ll merely “rationalize the current patchwork of temporary tax credits.”

Advancing the construction of up to 100 additional nuclear power plants.
McCain is a longtime supporter of nuclear energy—and of big taxpayer-funded handouts to the nuclear power companies. Yet McCain hasn’t come clean about how the nation’s current and future nuclear waste should be stored—in Nevada, a crucial swing state, or in some hypothetical international repository that exists only in McCain’s campaign promises.

Awarding a $300 million prize to whoever develops a commercially viable battery for hybrid or electric cars.
Rewarding research and development is great, but why offer so much money to a company or research facility that will corner the market on next-generation auto batteries?

Promising to “understand the role speculation is playing in our soaring energy prices.
”McCain can just ask his main economic adviser Phil Gramm, the former Republican senator who, with his wife, Wendy, played a lead role in deregulating the energy markets and creating the “Enron loophole.”

Ignoring mass transit.
McCain is avowedly anti-rail, and in 2002 he even proposed abolishing Amtrak and privatizing the country’s passenger rail systems. His Lexington Project, released at a time when Americans are rediscovering the importance of mass transit to the nation’s infrastructure, would do nothing to decrease this sprawled-out country’s dependence on cars for transportation.

What’s your take? Write: editor@shepex.com or comment on this story online at expressmilwaukee.com.


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