John McCain’s Climate Climbdown

Photo by "Soggydan" Dan Bennett, <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/soggydan/2252112316/">Flickr</a>.

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


As a presidential candidate, John McCain regularly touted his pioneering support for a cap-and-trade plan to reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. “I will clean up the planet,” McCain told a New Hampshire crowd during the primaries. “I will make global warming a priority.” In fact, he listed tackling climate change as one of his top three goals as president. And there was reason to believe he meant it. McCain co-sponsored the first cap-and-trade legislation with Joe Lieberman in 2003 and again in 2005. But then he lost the presidency to Barack Obama, and proceeded to throw a hissy fit over plans to regulate carbon that weren’t all that different from ones he’d championed in the past.

Now, McCain has taken his climate climbdown to a new low. He recently told an Arizona conservative talk radio host he “never” supported capping carbon emissions at a specific level—though he at least said he still thinks cutting emissions is a good idea. Via Think Progress, here’s the exchange:

HOST: If we knew then what we know today about these scientists and this fraud, would you still be in favor of capping carbon emissions at 2000 levels?

MCCAIN: I’ve never favored it at a certain level. I’ve favored reducing greenhouse gas emissions for the good of — I mean we all know that greenhouse gases are bad! But I’ve said, in order to achieve that we have to have nuclear power as a component of it.

McCain has been keeping his distance from the Senate climate debate this year, at least in part because he’s facing a challenge from the right for his Senate seat. Conservative former congressman J.D. Hayworth is already making hay of McCain’s support for addressing climate change. But McCain also refused to endorse the 2008 legislation from Lieberman and former Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia, arguing that it didn’t do enough for nuclear power (though he was not present for the vote on the bill).

In any case, the chances of McCain joining forces with buddy Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Democrats on climate legislation this year don’t look promising.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate