Postman on Politics
Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.
May 12, 2008 10:35 AM
Posted by David Postman
John McCain will give a major environmental speech today in Portland. It covers his proposal for a cap and trade system to reduce emissions and fight global warming.
Environmentalists began to respond to the Republican's energy proposal, even before the speech was delivered. In fact, we got this copy of the speech from someone at the Sierra Club even before we got it from the campaign.
Here's AP's take on the speech.
McCain will deliver the speech at a Portland company, Vestas Wind Technology. He tries for a much more inclusive approach than many Republican candidates do when campaigning in the west.
When we debate energy bills in Washington, it should be more than a competition among industries for special favors, subsidies, and tax breaks. In the Congress, we need to send the special interests on their way - without their favors and subsidies. We need to draw on the best ideas of both parties, and on all the resources a free market can provide. We need to keep our eyes on big goals in energy policy, the serious dangers, and the common interests of the American people. ...
As a program under the Clean Air Act, the cap-and-trade system achieved enormous success in ridding the air of acid rain. And the same approach that brought a decline in sulfur dioxide emissions can have an equally dramatic and permanent effect on carbon emissions. Instantly, automakers, coal companies, power plants, and every other enterprise in America would have an incentive to reduce carbon emissions, because when they go under those limits they can sell the balance of permitted emissions for cash. As never before, the market would reward any person or company that seeks to invent, improve, or acquire alternatives to carbon-based energy. It is very hard to picture venture capitalists, corporate planners, small businesses and environmentalists all working to the same good purpose. But such cooperation is actually possible in the case of climate change, and this reform will set it in motion.
McCain, though, also will call for more nuclear-generated energy.
It doesn’t take a leap in logic to conclude that if we want to arrest global warming, then nuclear energy is a powerful ally in that cause.
In a cap-and-trade energy economy, the cost of building new reactors will be less prohibitive. The incentives to invest in a mature, zero-emissions technology will be stronger. New research and innovation will help the industry to overcome the well known drawbacks to nuclear power, such as the transport and storage of waste. And our government can help in these efforts. We can support research to extend the use of existing plants.
The League of Conservation Voters said in a statement this morning:
To his credit, Senator 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.
He has not substantively improved his plan over the bill he introduced years ago - legislation that the science now shows is out of date.
He is right to call for investments in new alternative forms of energy but it is troubling that he continues to support taxpayer subsidies for a mature industry like nuclear which has yet to resolve its waste disposal problem.
McCain will be in Bellevue and North Bend tomorrow.
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