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Monday, June 16, 2008

McCain Energy Policy Watch Day 418: Confused or Lying?

We've already examined McCain's cap-and-trade plan, the only concrete proposal he's offered that deals with our energy problems. A cap-and-trade is a step towards full cost accounting of fossil fuels, which will help renewables become market competitive. The short version is that McCain's cap-and-trade is inferior to Obama's for anybody who is concerned about the environment, can't afford higher fuel prices, or supports investment in renewable energy and energy research.

In a press conference today, though McCain betrayed that he's either deeply confused or deeply dishonest about his own proposal. Furthermore, since we're told that calling McCain "confused" is ageist, I guess we're left with dishonesty. McCain said:
QUESTION: The European Union has set mandatory targets on renewable energy. Is that something you would consider in a McCain administration? [...]

MCCAIN: Sure. I believe in the cap-and-trade system, as you know. I would not at this time make those -- impose a mandatory cap at this time. But I do believe that we have to establish targets for reductions of greenhouse gas emissions over time, and I think those can be met.
As Gristmill pointed out, the cap part of cap and trade is a mandatory cap, even McCain's plan. McCain may not like the political framing of "mandatory," but saying that his plan does not include a mandatory cap is wrong on the facts.

So on the one level this story is a "gotcha!" John-McCain-ignorant-of-policy like so many others this year (Remember when Al Qaeda was in Iran? McCain does!). On another level, however, this exemplifies one of the most frustrating things about McCain's candidacy. He receives laudets for breaking with Bush on climate change (by acknowledging its existence-talk about a low bar!) but isn't held to any standard in his actions or policies!

McCain clearly doesn't prioritize climate change or energy issues, because if he did he would put forward a comphrehensive energy policy as Sen. Obama has done.

I would be encouraged if McCain's press corps begain asking about energy issues. High gas prices are a hot topic right now, and yet McCain is allowed to skate by without describing how a McCain administration would take leadership to promote policies? The message that I'm getting loud and clear from McCain is that whatever rhetoric about energy independence or climate change we hear over these next 5 months, McCain is clearly content to accept and continue Bush's legacy of federal inaction.

Prior installments of our McCain Energy Policy Watch are here:
The McCain Energy Policy Introduction.
Day 385: Cap-and-trade.
Day 410: Revenue decoupling.
Day 414: What We Do Know.